Friday, April 07, 2006

Bog People

I had forgotten how much they freak me out. I read Jessica's post over at looktouch just now, where she mentions some poems about bog people. I couldn't even click on the link. There is something about these preserved bodies that I cannot bear to look at.

I tried google to find a page about bog people, so I could link for you guys, but I don't even want to open any of the pages. I am scared to see pictures of these poor people preserved like leather.

My first encounter with the bog people was when I was maybe 12 years old. I think I saw part of a documentary about them at my grandparents' place. My mother had a book about them, and showed it to me, by way of further research. At first I was fascinated, and I read the little paperback book from cover to cover. Slowly, however, the horror grew, and before long I couldn't look at the pictures any more. They were black and white, in this little book, grainy pictures of unnaturally preserved human sacrifices from centuries ago. My young skin was soft and pink, and these people's skin was hard and dark - skin which should have decomposed long ago.

They were squashed from the weight of the bog above them. I remember the Tollund Man's face looking askew, flattened, unnatural. It was all leathery, hard, dark. Their stomachs still held the remains of their last meals, and the hanging noose circled their necks. Why were they killed? One girl's hair lay in a halo around her head. Who was she? What colour was her hair before she lay in the bog for centuries?

They had strange names, derived from the places they were found - Tollund Man, Elling Woman. They should be dead, left to rot, their bones to slowly melt into the earth. Instead, they are frozen in limbo, denied rest, their bodies remain. Now they lie in a museum for all to see.

These strange bodies from centuries ago - these are the one thing that strikes terror in me. I cannot look at them. I don't know exactly why.


Jessica Smith said...

you know, i feel exactly the same way about the mummies they found in greenland.. there was a national geographic article about it and the cover was of the baby mummy. my grandfather showed it to me and said it was a baby mummy and i felt sick, wondering who the baby was, and identifying with it (i was rather young.) then pawpaw told me that he actually had this mummy in the upstairs closet. although i was too old to be superstitious, i believed the mummy was in the closet until they moved out of the house when iwas about 9. so when i got to the top of the stairs i would run past the closet to my room. when they were moving, memaw was unpacking the closet and asked me to help. i was scared but i went in. there was a large old chest, and i thought "that's probably where the baby mummy is." so while i helped her pack i sat on the chest so he couldn't get out. it still freaks me out to see the pictures.

Anastasia said...

What is it with National Geographic casually having articles about mummies, bog people and frozen preserved people with no concern for people like you and me??? I'm sure there are many small children whose phyches have been scared forever by some 'natural history' 'educational' article featuring scary horrifying unnaturally preserved squashed and deformed person from thousands of years ago!