Archive for preservation

Preserved in time – Peruvian mummies

Posted in BODIES IN PRESERVATION with tags , , , on March 25, 2010 by echostains

cherchen man with tattoos

There are lots of ways the dead can be preserved.  The elements help. So far I have explored preservation by earth (well peat really) with the Bog bodies.  Then there was water (Otzi the ice man) frozen in ice and found in the Austrain/Italian alps.  But earth and water aren’t the only elements which can make time stand still.  Air also has its part to play.  Dry humid air has contributed in preserving the most famous mummies of all – the Egyptian mummies.  But these bodies have been treated with nitrates and bandaging.

The first body found was a Tocharian woman who was probably sacrificed

Lots of conditions can lead to natural mummification.  Sometimes the air is too dry, the ice is too cold, the ground is arid and these can preserve the bodies, sometimes for thousands of years.

this woman was approx 40 yrs old her stature and red hair indicate european descent

The Taklamakan mummies were found in 1980s on the edge of an old Silk Road in a remote desert in what is China.  The bodies are not embalmed but preserved naturally by the dry sands.  They are tall with red gold hair and it is believed that they are European descent.  Interestingly, the woman’s cloth garment is identical with Celtic cloth.

Here’s a small film which features her among other bodies:-

The Loulan Beauty as she may have looked

Another  Mummy, also found in China is obviously Caucasian.  She is known as the Loulan Beauty and she was found in the ruins of an ancient city on the edge of the Taklamakan desert.  She is thought to be over 4000 years old, stood 6ft 1 in. and is a European Caucasian ( before the Chinese got to China) she was over 40 years of age when she died.

The Loulan Beauty as she was found

It never ceases to amaze me what endurance the physical human body has and how nature can destroy or preserve our shell, leaving clues for  those who come after us.   The spirit shall go on, but we can learn a lot about ourselves by studying our past.

PS  My latest poem  is called ‘Acrostic Alphabet-ish’ here

More about the Taklamakan mummies here

Images from here

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More Bog Bodies – Ireland

Posted in BODIES IN PRESERVATION, HISTORY with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2010 by echostains

old croghan man cut in half

The peat bogs of Ireland hold many treasures and are a rich source of bog bodies.  The properties of the peat preserves these ancient peoples – even the contents of their last meal.

oldcroghan nipples cut, stabbed in ribs, later beheaded and dismembered

In 2006 two bog bodies of men were found and displayed in Dublin.  One, a giant of a man (6ft 6in) had manicured nails, he was called  Oldcroghan (after the place he was found).  The other,  (Clonycavan man) measured only 5ft 2 in and had a piled up hair style (just like me – and about the same height too!).  To hold this hairstyle together, he wore a kind of hair gel!  And they women are vain!

clonycavan man

Both men seem to have been part of  elite, not manual labourers: both were murdered.  the whole article about them, which makes interesting reading.

the peat has looked after his hair

But it isn’t only men who are found in bogs.  There is  Meenybradden woman.  She was found in 1978 in a peat bog.  Her body was wrapped in a woollen cloak and does not appear to have met a grisly end.  Her age is estimated to be between 25 and 30.  She was at one time the best preserved body – until the body got damaged in the deep freeze!  Unfortunately I can’t get a decent image of what is left of the woman.

The Bog Bodies by P V Glob, my first encounter with bog bodies

Bog bodies are fascinating, they can tell us so much about ourselves and how we lived.  A lot have been destroyed (unintentionally)  by peat cutting machinery, but there must be lots lying silently, more just waiting to be discovered.

I have other posts about bodies found in bogs here and here

It looks like these bodies are still on display at the Dublin National Museum of Ireland

More bog bodies here

Bog bodies – speak from beyond the grave

Posted in BODIES IN PRESERVATION, HISTORY with tags , , , , , , on February 5, 2010 by echostains

Lindow Man or Pete Moss

I put a bog body image in my last post (like you do…).  I am fascinated with the preservation of bodies.  I was lucky enough to see Lindow Man (or Pete Moss as he is affectionately called) in Manchester Museum not long after he was found and couldn’t get over how small he was!.  I have been interested in bog bodies ever since reading Professor P V Glob’s books in the 1970s.  I never knew such mummies even existed.

Tollund man

At first I was just curious and a little repulsed by them.  But as I read more about them, I began become feel a kind of kinship with  these men and women who inhabited a world alien to me now (who really knows if we have lived before, or if there is such a thing as collective consciousness?).   I’d like to think so. The harsh existence these people faced: the Gods they worshipped – the very frailties of their lives.  The clues are all there.  Even the food they ate and what season they died in has been discovered  through their autopsies.

The Tollund man does not sleep easy

Amongst my favorite bog bodies is the Tollund man.  he is preserved and displayed in the Silkeborg Museum.  How I would love to see him!  The tranquil look on his ‘sleeping’ face belies the hideous leather garrote  twisted into his  neck.  even his leather cap is a work of art, the tiny stitches still being visible from 400BC!  the stubble on his chin, his beautiful fingerprints (which have been taken) are things of wonder.  Even the pores of his skin are visible, though the rest of his body has disintegrated.  The man was found in the foetal position, naked except for his hat and hide belt.It is the acid in the peat that preserves these bodies.  Unfortunately some them have been lost or have been damaged by the peat cutter.  It is indeed amazing how these silent sentinels offer up their secrets.  It’s even more miraculous that we have the technology to understand our past!

More info HERE

Archaeology of bogs HERE 

Irish Bog Bodies HERE

Tollund man image from here and here

PS

Buy one; get another, then another until eventually you get the Sir John Soane’s Museum

Posted in LONDON (JAUNTS), Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2008 by echostains
Facade of Sir John Soane's museum London

Facade of Sir John Soane’s museum London

What a remarkable place!   What a remarkable man, son of a Bricklayer (b. 1753) Sir John Soane, Architect turned out to be!

 

A Rakes Progress The Rake taking possession of his estate 1734

A Rakes Progress The Rake taking possession of his estate 1734

There are also drawings, prints, furniture, clocks and of course books … the list is endless!  What a great time Soane must have had collecting them all.  He was continually building on and altering  his house in order to accommodate this collection.  The place must have been in a perpetual flux, forever changing.

 

 

 

Sir John Soane's Museum and Library

Sir John Soane’s Museum and Library

Soane wanted to preserve his collection to inform and educate students and amateurs.  He negotiated an Act of Parliament in 1833 to preserve his house and collection to benefit others.  This Act came into being when Soane died in 1837.  The public were encouraged to ‘consult, inspect and benefit’ from these collections and they do.

  Minimal changes have been made to the collections layout.  Each Curator has tried to maintain Soane’s wishes regarding Soane’s arrangements.

Amongst the truly impressive is the giant sarcophagus of Seti 1  c. 1370BC

 

John Soane Sarcophagus room in 1864

John Soane Sarcophagus room in 1864

 

 

and one my Favourite Goddess incarnations: Diana of Ephesus Turkey.

 

Diana of Ephesus

Diana of Ephesus

 I went to Ephesus in Turkey last year: an amazing place: like stepping back into biblical times.

 

Ephesus Turkey

Ephesus Turkey

 

 An exhibition of the Adam Brothers drawings of the Grand Tour (Rome).  These drawings are exquisite, showing meticulous draughtsmanship.  The exhibition runs until 14 February 2009.

 

Adam  brothers Grand  Tour

Adam brothers Grand Tour

The paintings, including the ‘Soane’s Hogarth’s’ read like a National Gallery Guidebook.  Turner, Canaletto, Reynolds, Fuseli, amongst many. 

 

John Soane's Dining Room with portrait

John Soane’s Dining Room with portrait

The actual atmosphere in the house is very tangent In some rooms, almost as if a past inhabitant has just left the room.  Perhaps life goes on as before and Sir John flits about stroking and arranging his collection when the house has been cleared of visitors and shut up for the night.  All those antique influences vibrating as one invisible breath, calling through time ‘Please Visit us!’

 

Altered Art book page 3 and 4 ‘A Question of Life and Death’

Posted in MY ALTERED ART BOOK PAGES with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2008 by echostains

p4  altered art book

p4 altered art book

The conversation on Page 4 was one that I found myself joining in with.  The text says;

 

Your mother is dead’ she told him, and he cried because the world had such a dull empty sound.  She tried to explain.  ‘When someone dies’ she said, ‘they go away’

‘When do they come back?

‘They don’t, she said.  They don’t come back.’

Edit: the word because needs printing out again (and spelling correctly)

 I wanted to question that;

Are you sure about that?

(A bit louder) ‘I said,

 

 

page2 detail

page2 detail

 

 

 Are you sure about that?’ 

Obviously, not knowing the answer, I added

‘Is there anyone there?????’

The image on the page is a ‘Spirit’ photo with a ‘Spirit’ standing at the back.  The woman who looks like she has a tablecloth in her mouth is actually emitting ectoplasm: a fascinating substance that seems to have died out now in Spiritual circles.  This ectoplasm eventually gave form to a spirit or so they say, though I’ve yet to hear a spirit confirm this.  The spirit world seems to have moved on now: it’s all mod cons now: orbs are the new phenomena.  Transformation of communication again.

Life and Death are fascinating questions (or are they both statements: facts?).  What IS life? And what exactly IS death?  We know that there IS Life (well, as we know it), but what is death?  Is there life after death?  Perhaps there’s no death, only a kind of life that goes on and on.  I have always been extremely interested in the preservation of dead bodies.   That’s probably due to a subconscious yearning for Everlasting life .  In that sense, I am no different from an ancient Egyptian.

Seti 1
Seti 1

Mummies fascinate me: whether they are embalmed, desiccated (dried out) usually in a hot climate like the dessert

 

 

Peruvian mummy 1200 to 1400

Peruvian mummy 1200 to 1400

 or preserved in watery bogs.

Tollund Man Bog body

Tollund Man Bog body

It is the preservation of the body (and the soul) that interests me.  It was for one of those reasons I went to see Professor Gunther von Hagens ‘Bodyworlds’ exhibition when it came to Brick Lane London in 2002.  

 

Von Hagens, known as the ‘Plastinater’ (I shook hands with that charming man by the way; his hands were cool…) had called into the exhibition to give an interview to a TV station.  There was also red paint (that at first looked like blood) on some of the backstairs: some kind of a demonstration protest had taken place. 

 

 

 

Dr von Hagens Bodyworlds exhibition

Dr von Hagens Bodyworlds exhibition The Plastination process involves removing fats and bodily fluids from the body: this impedes decomposition. The fluids are replaced with certain resins, silicon rubber, epoxy and elastomers. The material is then hardened and cured with light gas and heat, resulting in permanence.Human body from the Bodyworlds exhibition

My husband wasn’t keen on going to this exhibition, but even he thought it was fantastic.  We didn’t find it morbid or grisly though, though it’s hard to get away from the fact that these are dead people.  Some of them are celebrating things they did in real life.  The professor is no artist though and some of the tableaux could be said to be in bad taste.   I think his attempt to ‘lighten’ what is a controversial subject matter, may have backfired somewhat. But I do think that his intentions were honourable and he really wanted to show how these  body parts worked and what went wrong when they didn’t.   It’s not often that we see exactly what a deceased lung looks like…or a brain haemorrhage, yet these and other illnesses kill us.  When I looked at these illnesses, I felt that I was looking  death in the face (the causes of death) and that the ‘mystery’ had gone: the machine had broken: here’s what has broken it.

 

I gazed in wonder at these dead people who looked back at me.  They were just like me: the same species.  Only they were dead and I was Alive, looking at them: looking at these fantastic, miraculous machines – because machines we are: I couldn’t help but be acutely aware of the ONE difference between me and them: the spark of Life  which I hold within myself.  For that reason I found the exhibition a super Life affirming experience.

 

 

 

 Life affirming! Not death affirming, that’s inevitable.

This leads onto the other question though: is there life after death?  Well if there is, we sure don’t need the body to live it.  In that way, that’s where the Ancients went wrong, they thought the soul was nothing without the body it inhabited.

http://www.bodyworlds.com/en.h

At University, in the Foundation years I came across an artist that dealt with the spirit world.  This man claimed that he communicated with the dead and transmuted their communication through his art.  Austin O Spare dealt with the subconscious. O Spare who was very interested in the Occult and Ancient Magic claimed that some of his brushstrokes were directed by spirits: those who inhabited the Spiritual realm and that his art was automatical, springing from the subconscious.    I wrote an essay about this that I will put on this blog called ‘Art and Subconscious’.  O Spare was one of the artists I used in my research.  I first came across O Spare in an article in the Fortean Times (lots of interesting and thought provoking stuff in this magazine). 

http://www.forteantimes.com/

 

 

'Existence' from the Book of Satyrs by Austin Osman Spare

'Existence' from the Book of Satyrs by Austin Osman Spare

  In an interview with Hannen Swaffer, (An extract from Adventures with Inspiration  Hannen Swaffer) O Spare says about his art; –

“In some cases the ideas are the result of my inward psychical experiences,” Mr. Spare told me, “things I have not necessarily seen, or outwardly experienced. In others, the drawings are automatic, started with no idea as to what form they shall take, and completed without conscious direction.

Laugh aloud Zos answered by Austin O Spare

Laugh aloud Zos answered by Austin O Spare

For more info about O Spare;  

 

 http://www.banger.com/spare/index.html

 

http://www.austinspare.co.uk/zos.html

http://www.austinspare.co.uk/zos6.html

Media used page 4; Acrylics, inks, silver card, rafia, photo copied images

Pages 3 and 4

page-two-three-and-extramap

page-two-three-and-extramap