Tomb of the Eagles: Death and Life in a Stone Age Tribe View larger

Tomb of the Eagles: Death and Life in a Stone Age Tribe

9780941533058

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The remains  of our neolithic ancestors found at Isbister give us an amazing picture of the people who lived here 5000 years ago.

By John W. Hedges.

Foreword by Colin Renfrew.

Paperback.

Published in 1984.

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The Orkney Islands are justly famous for the exceptional preservation of stone-built tombs and villages, some of which are older than the pyramids of Egypt. And the remains of our neolithic ancestors found at Isbister breathe life into this great collection of ruins, and give us an amazing picture of the people who lived here 5,000 years ago.

In Tomb of the Eagles John Hedges describes vividly the tribe that had as its totem the magnificent white-tailed sea eagle. For these people the building and use of the tomb was symbol and expression of their identity. It was here that the dead joined their ancestors-but only after the flesh had been stripped from their bones. It was here, too, that offerings of food and goods were made according to the prescriptions and taboos of both group and society. Here broken pots were piled; fish, eagle and joints of meat mouldered, and the hands of the living sorted the bones of the dead.

But what of the people themselves? The 16,000 human bones recovered tell much about about their stature, physique, illnesses and life expectancy. Indeed, this unprecedented collection gives us a flash of insight into the structure of a living stone age society. That, perhaps, is the essence of Tomb of The Eagles: not dry bones, but a glimpse of history.

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