In one case a thigh bone had been turned into a musical instrument and included as a burial asset in the burial of a man found near Stonehenge.
British archaeologists have discovered that people who lived in the Bronze Age kept parts of their dead relatives as relics, turning them into items such asmusical instruments, home decorations or other kinds of memories.
According to the study, carried out by specialists from the University of Bristol, these findings suggest that our ancestors did not see human remains with the meaning "of horror or disgust»We have today, showing your intention to honor and remember the deceased.
In their attempt to get a more detailed picture of burial customs at the time, the team of scientists used radiocarbon dating and CT scans on Bronze Age remains found in the UK dating back 4,500 years.
“Even in modern secular societies, human remains are viewed as particularly powerful objects, and this seems to hold true for people of the Bronze Age. However, they then treated and interacted with the dead ofways that today are inconceivably macabre for us, ”says lead author Thomas Booth. According to the specialist, the people of that time could preserve the remains of people who had played an important role in their lives or in their communities, so "they had a relic to remember and perhaps tell stories about them."
'We found that many of the partial remains had been buried a significant time after a person's death, suggesting a conservation tradition of human remains, ”Booth said.
In one of the cases athigh bone it had been turned into a musical instrument and included as a burial property in a man's burial found near Stonehenge. Radiocarbon dating of this musical instrument suggests that it belonged to someone that this person knew during his lifetime.
“Although the human bone fragments were included as funeral goods with the dead, they were also kept in the homes of the living, where they were buried underground and even on display,” says Professor Joanna Brück, the project's lead researcher.
The study results suggest there was no exact protocol for treating bodies whose remains were intended to be preserved, Booth adds. Experts already knew that in the Bronze Age a series of funeral rites were practiced in the territory of present-day Great Britain, such as the primary burial, excarnation, cremation and mummification. However, the new research reveals that the remains of the dead were also regularly kept by the living.
"This study really highlights the strangeness and, perhaps, the unknown nature of the distant past from a current perspective," Booth surmises.