De odödliga. Förhistoriska individer i vetenskap och media

Detta är en avhandling från Nordic Academic Press

Sammanfattning: In the discipline of archaeology death has always been a common subject. Graves and dead bodies in different states of decay are important sources of information. This dissertation investigates how our relation to death can be mirrored through some of the better-known individuals from prehistory in Scandinavia. Because of the character of the question at issue I start with three chapters in which I circle around the conception of death, of the individual as concept and of the museum in which the exposure of dead bodies take place. My aim here is to show how complex our attitudes towards death are in only one culture and one religion. Today our strategies involve a strong intimacy filled with emotions when we handle dead bodies, no matter whether they are prehistoric, historical or modern individuals. The individuals I have chosen for this study are the Bäckaskog woman, one of Sweden's oldest and best-preserved skeletons from the Stone Age, the Tollund man and the Grauballe man, two Danish bog bodies, and finally the Oseberg queen with her companion found in one of Norway's most precious ship graves. These dead bodies represent individual human beings once part of a prehistoric world, a world the archaeologists tries to understand. But they also belong to our modern society where exhibitions, media and other actions affect them in several ways from the day they are found. They have all in different ways developed from archaeological finds into dear and particular individuals, today known worldwide. Important in this work has been to elucidate them from as many angles as possible and to uncover the different layers of rhetoric in science and media, often intertwined in a subtle way. The prehistoric individual can function as an ideological and therapeutic tool in our time. In our bewildered situation, with a constant knowledge of the unavoidable death, they are immortal and forever fascinating, always belonging to two different worlds, visible and still enchantingly unreachable.