Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Alken Enge, near Roskilde. Bog soldiers.

Archeology in Denmark, update:  Year 1AD, give or take.  Alken Enge, west of Roskilde.

An archeological expedition begun just after we were in Denmark found human bones in a bog there.  Bones in a bog are not unusual: see Silkeborg DK here, and other sites. 

This one, however, unearthed unbogged 250 persons, not individually dispatched, but apparently dead in a military catastrophe.  Which one? 

Roman army incursion.  Rome's army had reached a nearby point some 185 miles south of Alken Enge, with the indigenous people responding and fighting back against the expansion.  There are signs of wounds that resemble battle wounds.  The burial could have been en masse, ritual unknown.

There are about 100 acres that seem to hold further burial sites.  See magazine Archeology, Nov-Dec 2012 at p.14, article by Jarrett A. Lobell, "The Bog Army."  See website at, but online access to the public is not available.  Or am I just missing it? 

Year 1.  This archeological site, if it is related to the Roman Empire activity to the south, puts the army farther north from earlier boundaries.  See the Roman Empire in Year 1 at this site: Even by Year 100 AD, the Roman Army does not appear to have secured territory this far north. Still checking. See

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cross, Maltese, HRE, Danish Flag; Bjernede, Order of St. John,

The Knights Templar and Teutonic Knights were not the only Orders on Crusade and preceding the Crusades in the Holy Land.  The lesser known Knights Hospitaller, or Knights of the Order of St. John, deserve equal attention. It was founded in 1133, see history at, that formal date marking its independence from other Orders, such as the Augustinian or Benedictine.  The Hospital at Jerusalem, however, had long been run by a Brotherhood, Brothers of the Order, now Order of St. John.  Blessed Gerard's work established it, and his grave shows the angular Maltese Cross, shown in the background of the site.  Scroll down. Find the cross on the flag of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta at, white Maltese cross, red ground, the standard of the Grand Master.

The quartered flag of the Order, with a traditional white cross on a red ground, looks identical to the Flag of Denmark except that the Danish flag has its interstices (white cross, red ground) to the left of center, see  The cross resembles that of the Holy Roman Emperor, but the connection (see is supposedly unresolved.  It resolves if we connect the dots to the Knights Hospitaller.  See History of the Knights of St. John on Malta.

Militant orders in the ages of the crusades were clearly part of Scandinavia as elsewhere.

How the Order lived; and how the institutional rulers live now.

Read the "Rule" by which the Brothers lived: at  
Is this so:  that life by the Rule, Benedictine, Cistercian, St. John Hospitaller, developed by a form of brainwash stress and intolerance of autonomous behavior, rather than following the choice method of JC.  Think about it.  JC never forced people, enforced punishments. Tried overturning moneychangers' tables once, but that obviously didn't work, and the occupation was even absorbed by the "Rules."  History.  Love it.
  • Poverty, chastity, obedience, prejudice for the patriarchy, humility, associating in travels with those the Master designates, holy conduct, but watch out for women. Guard your modesty! (oh, Temptresses all, to be reduced to lesser status in order to aggrandize the Male in this dogged patriarchy)  Don't let them wash your feet (oh, Jesus, how has thou offended!) or your heads or make your beds (good one!).  
  • Pyramid scheme:  the Master gets 1/3 of all the alms collected, all goes through the Master.  Religion and autonomy do not go hand in hand. 
  • Clothing?  No fur (good!) and no bright colors (lest the Temptresses be inflamed?). 
  • Bread, water, no meat on Wednesdays or Saturdays.  
  • Morals. If a Brother fornicates, he shall be severely beaten and flogged, hard rods or leather flongs, in sight of the others in the community. 
  • No quarreling, no striking each other, penalties prescribed; eat in silence and no talking when in bed. 
  • The receiving of the sick man raises an issue:  were any sick women received. Doubtful?  No.  Babies were born at the Hospital, and sick men and women were received, see  

Treatments, supplies, clothing, all given as prescribed.  The equivalent of basic healthcare for all.

Maltese Cross:

The island of Malta was rented out by the Holy Roman Emperor to the Brotherhood, the Knights of St. John who had settled there in 1530.  The rent was two falcons a year, see Financial Times article April 8, 2012 at

At the orderstjohn site, scroll down to the photo of the round church and the columns there.  Is that the "round church" pattern that is seen in Denmark and elsewhere, suggesting the militant Orders?

An Order of St. John in Denmark was instituted in modern times, see Den Danske Malteseorden,, but without reference to medieval orders.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mysterious Bog People. Fear of Ambiguity

An imaginative draw for tourists is preserved human bodies in northern European moors, their condition leathered from tannic acid in bogs where they were found. The era spans some 12,000 years: Stone Age to the Middle Ages. Some display signs of foul play, untimely death, and then the speculation begins:  death as punishment, as offering to deities, what?  The degree of speculation concerned those at Archeology Magazine in reviewing a traveling show from 2006.  In the clear absence of proofs, with no definitive facts, no firsthand written record, the tale-telling begins. Find mottoes, little lessons, morality notes, made up and tacked on the exhibit. Bog fantasy, or "kitsch from the ditch,"says

National Geographic finds that some of the damage evident was inflicted by pressure or other means long after death, see Sometimes people even stepped with heavy clog on a body during the excavation process.

There are hundreds of such bodies: in Denmark, including Grauballe Man in Jutland; but also in Poland, Northern Germany and the Netherlands. Many cultures tossed items and bodies in bogs. Finding those reasonably intact is not evidence of human sacrifice, but of the conditions of tanning.

The display of the Tollund Man we saw at Silkeborg was responsibly non-committal in leaving numerous options open, but the visuals and suggestivity outweigh the technical non-conclusions, see; and But it is this very stress on needing reasons that is also of interest.
Spectacular finds! Write a book!  Why not lay out what we know and do not know, and leave it at that. Because there is marketing to be had. Abhor the vacuum and fill it up. Inconclusive circumstances bog deaths?  Make it certain. Then again, the sight of a noose-ish thing, or rope for tying people together around the neck, or other use invites speculation, and is hard to ignore. It is easier to explain away broken bones, gashes.

Tacitus, Roman historian, apparently referred to the manner of death as punishment for cowards, the unwarlike, and those who "disgraced their bodies".  And that is the only contemporaneous report we have. See the Archeology reviews site, and