Towards an archaeology of pain? Assessing the evidence from later prehistoric bog bodies

Henry Chapman, Benjamin Gearey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
264 Downloads (Pure)


This paper highlights the potential for what could be termed an ‘archaeology of pain’, reflecting on the potential significance and role of the infliction, suffering, endurance and observation of pain by individuals in the past. It presents a case study of ‘bog bodies’, human remains recovered from wetland which, due to the anoxic, waterlogged conditions, preserves human flesh and associated evidence, including injuries and cause of death. The central argument is that evidence from pathological investigations of certain later prehistoric bodies provides hitherto neglected information concerning the embodied experience of pain, in particular its duration and intensity, which may be central to the interpretation of these events. This understanding can be framed not only in terms of the experience of pain by the victims, but also in the potential perception of pain and suffering by those inflicting these and potentially by any observers of the final moments of these individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-227
Number of pages14
JournalOxford Journal of Archaeology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Archaeology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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