Sky Burial In The Bronze Age

 In archaeology, Death & Funerals, Pagan Belief

You cannot imagine how vindicated I feel. A recent article in the Guardian featured research on the various artifacts found in Bronze Age graves throughout Britain. Their findings suggested that sky burial, that is the defleshing of bodies, was routine at that time. However, this has long been my message, one that was expressed strongly in my latest book. The real name for this process is excarnation, a process I have highlighted in a previous post. That said, sky burial in the Bronze Age is after the Neolithic, the period I normally write about.

The perfect takeaway

I find it surprising that such erudite media reports can be so casual in their observations. For instance, the researchers suggest that the bodies were laid on the ground and allowed to rot. It is hard to imagine that wildlife would sit idly aside whilst a mass of protein and fat, a human body, rotted away. Are they not aware that there were far more carrion eaters than today? Okay, I am thinking birds, like the raven or the aptly named carrion crow. However, there were also wolves, foxes, even bears. At night, rats, mice, even hedgehogs, would have their fill. Why would they waste such a valuable food?

Sky burial in the Bronze Age

The Bronze Age tribes recovered bones from the skeleton and carved them into ornaments. These could be worn around the body and maintained a link between the dead and the living. In truth, the word death is not apt for these Bronze Age tribes. The real question is whether they even identified death. It’s as if the person changed form within their beliefs and simply existed in a new and different way. Okay, they could not speak or sow seeds but they had a day to day role within the tribe. Perhaps this was as a talisman, a bone that gave them protection against harmful spirits.

Industrial diamonds

In case you think this a little unreal, consider how some people memorialise modern day cremation. A number of firms offer a process that will turn the carbon in cremated remains into a diamond. You can wear this jewel, composed of your mother’s or father’s cremated remains, on your body. Very little is new in this current age. Our ways of dealing with death today simply replicate what they did in the past. The difference is that they used nature and their own hands to create the talisman. Our death diamond, on the other hand, needs massive energy to create and thereby memorialises the destruction of the planet.

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