Friday, January 4, 2013

5 Things - the Bears & Bogs Edition

The problem with having so many days off, I've decided, is the pretty decided lurch one has in getting back into routine. This week has been full of having to talk myself out of bed even more so than usual. Short as it's been (four day week! Woo!), it's also felt interminably long.
Ah well. I'll just keep drinking tea around the clock, supplementing with coffee, and then trying to figure out why I feel over-caffeinated, and deciding I need to mull over the problem with more tea.
It's a vicious cycle.
In any case, here are 5 things I found cool this week. Disclaimer; one of those things is not alive. Although I do feel like he makes up for it with his jaunty cap.

1. This National Geographic article on bog bodies.

All over northern Europe, in Ireland, England, sometimes even over in Florida, they find bog bodies. These are bodies preserved by having been thrown, placed, or simply by finding accidentally interred in peat bogs. In Europe, the bodies they find often are clearly the victims of ritual sacrifice; the nooses they were strangled with are carefully left around their necks, sometimes the extra rope carefully placed on their chests. Some of the bodies are of teenagers, some of older people.

The Tollund Man, one of the most well-preserved of the bodies found, had eaten a mix of wild seeds that have led researchers to think that the ingredients of the food he ate were probably part of the ritual. Odds are likely that the man knew what was to happen to him, because he had roughly three days' stubble on his face, indicating that he had stopped shaving.

Here is what's cool about bog bodies; we can look at what they ate for lunch. We know that the man did not shave for roughly three days before his death. These are things we can prove. The exceptional preservation means that some of these bodies were mistaken for more recent murder victims, because to the untrained eye they hardly look like they've been in a bog for 10 years, let alone 2,000. Or sometimes as long as 8,000 years, as in the case of one woman who apparently drowned in a lake that became a bog later, and preserved her skeleton. Nearby, at what would have been the coast of the lake-that-was, they found a settlement dated to nearly the same time frame, making it somewhat likely that the woman whose skeleton they found lived in that settlement.

In a bog in Florida, they found an incredible place of burial; 168 skeletons, placed with burial goods. Many were children. One was a 15-year-old boy with spina bifida. That may not sound terribly remarkable, but keep in mind we're talking about Early Archaic hunter-gatherers, who took the time and felt it worthwhile to expend the effort to take care of and support the life of a child who would almost certainly have been paralyzed from the waist down. This actually tells us a lot about that particular group of people and what they felt valuable.

Archeology is incredible. I've said before that if I had school to do over again, it's probably the subject I would have gone into as a major. I really regret not having taken more archeology and anthropology classes while I was in school.

So... now that we've finished today's archeology lesson...

2. This scarf.

My friend Jessi made it for me as a Christmas present. It is bright and perfect and today wasn't nearly cold enough to get away with wearing it, but I did it anyway.

There was much rejoicing.

3. This print of a watercolor painting by Marisa Redondo, who goes by River Luna on etsy. Her paintings are just kind of perfectly natural and whimsical and I spent a surprisingly long time yesterday morning before work clicking through one after another.

Aside from animals like owls, foxes, bears, and deer, she also does some cool work with feathers and flower-shapes.

Go check her out!

4. You probably noticed above the painted rocks next to the bear painting above. Those aren't done by Marisa, but by a friend of hers, Amy Komar, who goes by artistinthearctic.

Above is one of Amy's standalone pieces. You can hold it in the palm of your hand, but her tiny dabs of paint are just so carefully precise. Love the colors, too, although anyone who knows me could see why I'd be drawn to this one.

She also paints on old keys, pieces of wood, scissors, tree hearts, and wrenches. It's really something to look at and contemplate; I thought a lot of her stuff was absolutely beautiful.

Apart from the above, these three pieces are my favorites of hers.

5. This mug.

Yes, it's from Starbucks.

No, I feel no shame. Why do you ask?

Yes, I realize that Jason just bought me a new coffee mug for Christmas.

No, that doesn't lessen the love I feel for this one.

Yes, I realize I'm just having this argument with myself at this point.

No, I will stop when I am darn good and ready to stop!


Okay, I'll stop now.

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