Deposits, waste or ritual remnants?
Philippe Lefranc and Fanny Chenal

Among the numerous human remains found in circular pits belonging to the fourth millennium BCE cultures north of the Alps, there are many examples of bodies laid in random (or unconventional) positions. Some of these remains in irregular configurations, interred alongside an individual in a conventional flexed position, can be considered as a ‘funerary accompaniment’. Other burials, of isolated individuals or multiple individuals buried in unconventional positions, suggest the existence of burial practices outside of the otherwise strict framework of funerary rites. The focus of this article is the evidence recently arising from excavation and anthropological studies from the Upper Rhine Plain (Michelsberg and Munzingen cultures). We assume that these bodies in unconventional positions were not dumped as trash, but that they were a part of the final act of a complex ritual. It is hypothesised that these bodies, interpreted here as ritual waste, were sacrificial victims, and a number of possible explanations, including ‘peripheral accompaniment’ or victims of acts of war, are debated.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Open Access (free)
Melanie Giles

-medical intervention would all have happened in the past, as would the post-mortem taking of relics: at Cladh Hallan it was the whole ‘knee’ joint that was sought out and curated. What should one do with such limbs? Detached body parts would have had symbolic meanings lost to us but also a disquieting and uncanny force that might have required their individualised ‘burial’ in a pit (seen extensively in the Wessex storage pit tradition, see Cunliffe 1992 ; Aldhouse-Green 2002 ) or as here, in the bog. The case of Lindow Man Lindow Man represents the remains identified as

in Bog bodies
Interpreting deposition in the bog
Melanie Giles

year (Synnott 2010 ). The same preservative properties that produced the bog bodies extended the use life of perishables and consumables placed in the bog. Analysis has suggested butter reaches its ‘bog constituency’ within a couple of years (Cronin et al . 2007 ). In the UK, the Iron Age marks a considerable period of underground experimentation with cold storage: the fogoues of Cornwall and the souterrains of Ireland and Scotland, for example (Christie et al . 1978 ; Armit 1999 ; Mudie et al . 2007 ). The subterranean storage pit, such as those of Wessex

in Bog bodies