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‘Gifts for the gods’: lake-dwellers' macabre remedies against floods in the Central European Bronze Age

  • Francesco Menotti (a1), Benjamin Jennings (a1) and Hartmut Gollnisch-Moos (a2)

The lake-dwellings of the Circum-Alpine region have long been a rich source of detailed information about daily life in Bronze Age Europe, but their location made them vulnerable to changes in climate and lake level. At several Late Bronze Age examples, skulls of children were found at the edge of the lake settlement, close to the encircling palisade. Several of the children had suffered violent deaths, through blows to the head from axes or blunt instruments. They do not appear to have been human sacrifices, but the skulls may nonetheless have been offerings to the gods by communities faced with the threat of environmental change.

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I. Armit 2012. Headhunting and the body in Iron Age Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

C. Fredengren 2011. Where wandering water gushes-the depositional landscape of the Mälaren Valley in the Late Bronze Age and earliest Iron Age of Scandinavia. Journal of Wetland Archaeology 10: 109–35.

M.J. Green 2002. Humans as ritual victims in the later prehistory of Western Europe. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 17: 169–89.

B. Jennings 2012. Settling and moving: a biographical approach to interpreting patterns of occupation in Late Bronze Age Circum-Alpine lake-dwellings. Journal of Wetland Archaeology 12: 121.

M. Magny 2004. Holocene climate variability, as reflected by mid-European lake-level fluctuations and its probable impact on prehistoric human settlements. Quaternary International 113: 6579.

F. Menotti 2003. Cultural response to environmental change in the Alpine lacustrine regions: the displacement model. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 22: 375–96.

F. Menotti 2012. Wetland archaeology and beyond: theory and practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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