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Bodies in the Bog and the Archaeological Imagination Paperback – December 1, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (December 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226734056
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226734057
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,215,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“A rare conjunction of brilliant research with lyrical feeling. At once gripping, enlightening, and deeply moving, this stunning book offers a mind-boggling trek across space and time, life and death, torment and ecstasy. By turns ventriloquist and taxidermist, Karin Sanders resurrects bog beings from the limbo of their burial. They are reborn through the curious eyes and creative hands of poets and painters, sculptors and scholars, as both saints and ghosts—like saints miraculously indestructible, like ghosts haunting us with eerie memories. And her fabulous bog bodies at length mirror ourselves. They are our own doppelgängers, doubles displaced from time immemorial.”
(David Lowenthal, University College London)

“What a wonderful, wonderful book this is. I absolutely loved Bodies in the Bog and everything about it, from the thoughtful approach and beautiful writing to the well-contextualized discussions of bog bodies in psychology, poetry, art, museum display, and facial reconstruction. A truly interdisciplinary study clearly based on years of passionate research, it offers a rich and nuanced explanation of what makes these bodies so fascinating, appealing, and troubling.”

(Stephanie Moser, University of Southampton)

“For me, archaeology has its muses; in Karin Sanders’s hands, these muses are very much with us, for she understands archaeology in relation to the literature, the poetry, the historical trajectories of each and every find. In her study of bog people, Sanders has brought together many voices that are not usually in conversation, presenting a dramatically new set of interlocking perspectives—a new kaleidoscopic pattern. This book is a delight to read, a skillful and ingenious accomplishment, a dexterous weaving of new ideas about a much-debated phenomenon that has long sparked our imaginations.  What Sanders has done here makes me rejoice in what a creative mind can do, and in how readers will inevitably come away with all sorts of new understandings. Brava!”

(Margaret Conkey, University of California, Berkeley)

"I found this book a joy to read because, unlike most archaeological studies, it combines scholarship with superb literary style, the whole salted by the provision of numerous imaginative pathways. I, for one, will never study or write about bog bodies in the same way again and I will try to ensure that the same is true of my students. Despite the few caveats mentioned above, it is a work of true originality that lifts bog victims out of their purely archaeological dimension and travels with them on a journey towards enlightenment. Early on in the study, the author speaks of bog bodies being embalmed with words. That is nowhere more true than in this book."

(Miranda Aldhouse-Green Australian Archaeological Association)

"[Sanders] deftly teases out the paradoxes: born of neither land nor water but something in between: the bodies are the uncanny link between the pagan belief that prompted their death and our own prejudices. . . . Equally entertaining is Sanders' commentary on Freud and Jung, describing how the famous schism between the two psychologists was prompted by their disagreement over the meaning of the bog bodies."—Philip Hoare, Sunday Telegraph 
(Sunday Telegraph)

"Sanders has uncovered a fascinated range of examples of literature and art which has responded to the peaty mummies. . . . Sanders's  reading, research and reflection has resulted in a rich and suggestive study."—Jennifer Wallace, Times Literary Supplement
(Times Literary Supplement) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

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

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Nethery on December 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is such a good book. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Karin Sanders examines those mysterious archaeological artifacts known as "bog bodies," corpses found long-buried in the peat fields of Ireland, Britain, and northern Europe. Unlike mummies, bog bodies retain soft tissue while their bones deteriorate, turning them into "sacks of flesh." Because of the soft tissue, they appear quite life-life, even though they may be 1000 years old or more: their faces are largely intact, and may even possess stubble from a day-old beard, and they are often fully clothed. Sanders explains who these mysterious people were, how they died, and how they have come to occupy an important place in the imaginations of historians, poets, artists, philosophers, and ordinary people. A gifted writer, Sanders has penned a book that is at once highly informed and is a work of genuine literary merit.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard K. Edwards on May 25, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So many references to Danish literature. So many references to obscure authors I'd never heard of. This book reads like a Ph.D. dissertation that probably bored the review committee into submission. If you're just starting out on reading about bog bodies, you should avoid this book becsue it will kill any interest you have in the subject.
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