In 2001, archaeologists working on the island of South Uist in the Hebrides discovered several curious skeletons. They were flexed in an unusual manner and buried, rather than cremated, which was the fashion during the period that produced them. The first body was that of a man who died around 1600 BC but who had been buried some 600 years later. The second body was identified as that of a woman who died around 1300 BC and was buried at the same time as the man. Analysis showed that both bodies had been submerged in a peat bog to mummify them.
Things began to get weird when it was discovered that the first corpse had a jaw and a legbone that belonged to people other than the rest of the body. These three individuals had died at different periods of time, centuries apart.
The second skeleton seemed at first to be from only one individual but DNA analysis showed that, just as in the first mummy, parts of three different corpses were assembled into one. Oh, and the skull belonged to a male. The man’s canine teeth had been removed from his head after death and placed in the mummy’s hands.
These bodies were mummified for reasons we can only guess. Perhaps they were on display, perhaps kept in some kind of case, perhaps they were brought out for ceremonial display once in a while. Current thinking is that they are part of an ancestor-worship concept, maybe being made up of cadavers from the same kinship line. On the other hand, maybe when something fell off the corpse, the priests just replaced it with whatever they could find. “Mummy’s lost a jaw, Jim.” “Damn! Well, stick another in the bog and we’ll soon have him right!”
So, after all the work entailed in putting these things together and hanging onto to them for centuries, why suddenly bury them? Here it should be noted that these two mummies were not the only corpses interred under the floors of the buildings of Cladh Hallan.