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Bodies in the Bog and the Archaeological Imagination

Bodies in the Bog and the Archaeological Imagination

by Karin Sanders


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Over the past few centuries, northern Europe’s bogs have yielded mummified men, women, and children who were deposited there as sacrifices in the early Iron Age and kept startlingly intact by the chemical properties of peat. In this remarkable account of their modern afterlives, Karin Sanders argues that the discovery of bog bodies began an extraordinary—and ongoing—cultural journey. 
           Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Sanders shows, these eerily preserved remains came alive in art and science as material metaphors for such concepts as trauma, nostalgia, and identity. Sigmund Freud, Joseph Beuys, Seamus Heaney, and other major figures have used them to reconsider fundamental philosophical, literary, aesthetic, and scientific concerns. Exploring this intellectual spectrum, Sanders contends that the power of bog bodies to provoke such a wide range of responses is rooted in their unique status as both archeological artifacts and human beings. They emerge as corporeal time capsules that transcend archaeology to challenge our assumptions about what we can know about the past. By restoring them to the roster of cultural phenomena that force us to confront our ethical and aesthetic boundaries, Bodies in the Bog excavates anew the question of what it means to be human.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226734057
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 07/03/2012
Pages: 344
Sales rank: 1,002,315
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Karin Sanders is professor of Scandinavian studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Preface and Acknowledgements


Remarkable Remains

Chapter 1

Nature’s Own Darkroom

Chapter 2

The Archaeological Uncanny


Chapter 3

Uses and Abuses: Bog Body Politics


Chapter 4

Erotic Digging

Chapter 5

Bog Body Art


Chapter 6

Museum Thresholds and the Ethics of Display

Chapter 7

Making Faces



Frozen Time and Material Metaphors




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