January 20, 2006 Science Magazine
Bog Men as Sacrifices

After 18 months of investigation, archaeologists have revealed that the two Iron Age men whose bodies were found in 2003 in Irish bogs were probably ritually sacrificed. Both were tortured before being killed about 2300 years ago. One was stabbed and had his nipples cut off prior to being beheaded and dismembered.


Big torso. (Inset: Manicured hand.)
   Much can be learned from bog bodies, which are preserved in the peat. Analysis of hair from one of the recent finds indicates a largely vegetable diet, suggesting he died in the summer, according to scientists at the National Museum of Ireland, where the bodies are being held. The hair also was coated in a gel made from resins that probably came from southern Europe. The other man was a striking 2 meters tall and apparently a man of leisure. "His nails were well-manicured, showing that he never did any manual work," says the museum's Isabella Mulhall. The two bodies, the subject of a 20 January BBC documentary, will go on exhibit at the museum in May.
   Many of the more than 100 bog bodies discovered in northwest Europe show marks of violent deaths. Museum archaeologist Ned Kelly says 40 of those found in Ireland, as well as the two latest finds, were discovered on the borders of ancient tribal lands, which leads him to suspect they were killed as offerings to the gods of fertility. CREDIT: BBC

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January 20, 2006 Science Magazine
VIDEOS AND BRAIN-NUMBING
A new entry in the perennial debate about video violence uses brain waves to argue that violent video games "desensitize" players, making them more aggression-prone.

Researchers led by psychologist Bruce D. Bartholow of the University of Missouri, Columbia, asked 34 male college students about their exposure to violent video games. The researchers then wired up the men to see how their brains reacted to different types of


Scary picture has little effect on violent video fans.

pictures. They found that the violent game afficionados showed a diminished P300 brain wave--a wave that responds to stimuli the brain registers as significant--in response to violent pictures compared with the other game players. And the smaller P300 correlated with higher levels of aggression in a test allowing subjects to punish an unseen "opponent" with a blast of noise. "To our knowledge, this is the first study to link violent video game exposure to a brain process associated with desensitization to violence and to link that brain response to aggressive behavior," says Bartholow.
   The study, in press at the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, still fails to show that video games cause violent behavior, says psychologist Jonathan Freedman of the University of Toronto in Canada. Although games can "habituate" the brain to violent images, Freedman says "there is no good evidence that exposure to lots of [video] violence desensitizes you to real violence."
CREDITS: BRADLEY LANG AND B. N. CUTHBERT, INTERNATIONAL AFFECTIVE PICTURE SYSTEM (IAPS): INSTRUCTION MANUAL AND AFFECTIVE RATINGS (UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, 2001)

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