Mike Stuchbery 💀🍷+ Your Authors @MikeStuchbery_ Journalist, Writer, Historian & Disgraced Former Supply Teacher. Jun. 24, 2019 2 min read + Your Authors

Sometimes you come across an archaeological find that reinforces the shifting of perceptions of the body over time. Meet the 'Shamaness of Bad Dürrenberg'... /1

In 1934, during work in a park in the German town of Bad Dürrenberg, in modern Sachsen-Anhalt, a grave was found. It continued two bodies - a woman, aged 25 - 30 and a child between 4 - 6 months old, sex unknown. /2

Testing revealed the grave to date from 5500 to 6500 BCE. That is to say, the grave was around 8,500 years old. That places it during the Mesolithic era.

The woman was found in a seated position, the child between her legs. /3

The skeletons were packed in red ochre, signifying that this was the grave of a significant individual. The scattered remnants of a headdress made of bone, teeth and antlers indicates she was most probably a shaman, a mystic. /4

The woman was also buried with spearpoints, needles and an axe - all high-prestige items. There is no doubt that she was revered locally.

As for what killed her, there is evidence of infections, beginning with cavities and spreading to the jaw. /5

Now, here's the really interesting part - when her skeleton was examined, irregularities were found at the base of the skull and vertebrae, that might have had any number of physiological and neurological effects. /6

Put simply, the woman may have experienced the sensation of insects crawling across her skin. She may have also had double vision, involuntary movements and trance-like blackouts. /7

Rather than these physiological abnormalities leading to her shunning and exclusion, it seems that they gave her her role as a wise woman, a bridge between the worlds. /8

What we could see as a problem to be solved - and let's be clear, her abnormalities may very well have been debilitating - her people saw as a valuable asset in the struggle to survive. /9

Today, the remains of the Shamaness of Bad Dürrenverg are on display - very reverently, I may add - in the @MuseumHalle (Museum of Prehistory) in the city of Halle. /10

If you'd like to learn more about the Shaman of Bad Dürrenberg, there's not heaps in English, but here's a great paper. /11  https://www.academia.edu/35915323/The_Burial_of_Bad_D%C3%BCrrenberg_Central_Germany_Osteopathology_and_Osteoarchaeology_of_a_Late_Mesolithic_Shamans_Grave 

Hope you enjoyed that. I'm going to be visiting the Museum of Prehistory in the near future, and hope to speak to curators about new discoveries made about her! /FIN

You can follow @MikeStuchbery_.


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