Location where Tollund Man, Elling Woman,
and Graubelle Man were found in Danish peat bogs.
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Quiz #448 - September 14, 2014
1. About when did this man die?  Where?
2. What as his last meal?
3. Give the name of another similar type of person.
1.  Tollund Man died about 375-210 BCE
2. Porridge made from barley, linseed oil, gold of pleasure, knotgrass
3. Grauballe Man, Haraldskaar Woman and others
Comments from Our Readers
Amazing that the stomach contents hadn't dissolved and could be analyzed. DNA
probably available also.

Googling man with rope gave lots of living people handling ropes. Dead man with
rope brought up Tollund Man. Wikipedia had all the answers.
Arthur Hartwell
NOTE: there have been several songs written about such bog bodies, including The
Mountain Goats' "Tollund Man" and Australian band The Triffids'  "Jerdacuttup

Radio Lab did a fascinating show about the mummified-in-ice Otzi.
Tynan Peterson
I almost felt guilty searching doing this, as I love reading about the bog bodies.
Then, I came to question two. That took a bit of research. I found the answer here:
Rebecca Bare
Googled "hung man last meal". Went to images.
Ida Sanchez
I have seen the remains of Lindow Man in the British Museum.  He was found
in a bog outside Wilmslow, Cheshire, in 1984.
Margaret Paxton
Just imagine what it must have been like to have been in that area when the Tollund
Man was found. WOW! Not a recent homicide as initially thought.
Grace Hertz and Mary Turner
This information was a little harder to locate, but I finally found a Danish article
entitled "The Tollund Man - A Face Found from Prehistoric Denmark" which
answered the questions posed.
Ellen Welker
I recognized the image as a "bog man". A quick image search brought me to image
on the National Geographic web sit and the name "Tollund Man".

I then moved to the Danish site for "The Tollund Man" which contained details
about his life, death, and examination of the body.
Catherine Bence
Isn't it odd that he has a hat on and nothing else?  Don't think the arranged position
is sufficient to say he was a "sacrifice"! Other burials show bones arranged in such
positions.  Came into this world from this position so they are being born into
another one?  
Kitty Huddleston
It took a few minutes for the light bulb to go on, but then I remembered hearing
about the man found in the ice in the Alps in 1991.  He has been given the name of
Otzi the Iceman and is believed to have lived around 3,300 BCE.  The  interesting
thing about Otzi is that he still had intact blood cells.  A DNA analysis found a lot of
information, including living descendents.  This web site lists a number of
mummies, some of which were naturally mummified.
Carol Gene Farrant
I knew what this was as soon as I saw it.  :)  I am absolutely fascinated with
Tolland man; the minute detail, the pores of the skin, everything is perfect -it is
absolutely incredible and something I am happy to have seen in my lifetime.
Beth Long
I am totally captivated by the bog bodies and what we can learn from them.

We were at "Danish Days" in Solvang today. We bought a raffle ticket (for a free
trip to Denmark). See you at the Silkeborg!
Dianne Abbott

Congratulations to Our Winners!

Arthur Hartwell                Tynan Peterson
Rebecca Bare                Edee Scott
Ida Sanchez                Margaret Paxton
Ellen Welker                Ellen Welker
Elaine C. Hebert                John Thatcher
Catherine Bence                Daniel Dean
Janice Sellers                Dianne Abbott
Trey Spencer                Tom Collins
Daniel Jolley                Cynthia Costigan
Kitty Huddleston                Carol Gene Farrant
Pat Thomas                 Betty Chambers
Beth Long                Judy Pfaff
Marcelle Comeau

The Fabulous Fletchers!
Grace Hertz and Mary Turner
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Tollund Man
by Susan K. Lewis
Tollund Man's Appearance
Tollund Man has become the face of Iron Age Europe. But in 1950, when men cutting
peat near the village of Tollund, Denmark, stumbled upon him, they thought he was a
modern murder victim. The police, aware of similar ancient bodies, contacted the
Silkeborg Museum, and various specialists—archeologists, forensic scientists,
radiologists, paleobotanists, even dentists—later studied his body.

This 2,400-year-old corpse is the world’s most famous bog body. Learn how scientists
reconstructed his final hours. Click
here to learn about their findings and get an intimate
view of the 2,400-year-old man.
The examination of the Tollund Man at the National Museum
of Denmark in 1950 revealed an unusually well-preserved
body of an adult male who was approximately 30 to 40
years old when he died. The Tollund Man is probably the
most well-preserved body from pre-historic times in the
Only the side of the body which had been turned upwards in
the excavation of the peat bog showed signs of
decomposition. On his right side, which had been turned
downwards in the grave, the skin was well-preserved
whereas the body itself had shrunk, thus making folds in the
skin. Different measurements showed that he measured 161
centimetres when he was discovered, but it is very likely
that he shrank a little during his stay in the bog.

His arms and hands were almost skeletonized and partly
ruined due to the peat-digging in the bog - only his feet and
one finger were completely untouched.

The head was almost shockingly well-preserved. The eyes
were closed and so was the mouth - the look on his face
was calm and solemn as if he was just sleeping. His hair was
short - 1-2 centimetres long - the red colour of his hair is
due to the influence of the bog water. We don't know his
original hair colour.

The hair on his head was covered by a crafted, pointed
leather cap made of sheepskin. It was secured with two thin
leather straps attached near the temples and tied together
under his chin. A loop made it easy to put the cap on and
remove it again.

The belt was tied around the body's hips. The belt was 77
centimetres long and was made of thin pieces of leather.
To launch interactive website, click
on thumbnail.
Tollund Man today
(top), and before
restoration (bottom).
One end of the belt had an oblong cut through which the other end of the belt had been
pulled through and secured with a loop which could easily be untied. The leather cap
and the leather belt were the man's only remaining clothing but around his neck was a
braided leather rope tightened in a noose. The leather rope gives us the answer to one of
the most interesting questions in connection with the Tollund Man: How did he die?

The rope had left a clearly visible furrow in the skin on the sides of his neck and under
his chin, whereas there were no marks on the back of his neck where the knot was
placed. The rope was strong enough to hold the weight of a grown man. The loose
end, which was approximately 1 metre long, was rolled up and placed under the
Tollund Man and had clearly been cut in half with a knife. The forensic examiners had
no doubts when they decided on the cause of death: The Tollund Man had been hanged.
Excavation at the National Museum of Denmark
On May 17th 1950, shortly after the Tollund Man was
discovered, he was sent to the National Museum of
Denmark in Copenhagen. After having carefully opened
the box the actual excavation of the body began. Two
of the conservators of the museum, Knud Thorvildsen
and Brorson Christensen, were given the exciting task
of removing the last layer of peat which was still
covering the body. The head was the first part they
uncovered and after that came the body itself.
They later wrote a report about the excavation in which
the wrote: "The head was unusually well-preserved.
The hair was short (1-2 centimetres long). His eye
brows were partly preserved. On his upper lip, chin and
cheeks appeared very short but thick stubble. His eyes
were closed, his mouth, whose lips were
well-preserved, was closed, too. His face was at peace
af if he was sleeping quietly.
Tollund Man after being
turned over.
The upper part of his body was bent slightly forward and most of the skin had been
preserved. However, the left side of his chest and shoulder was somewhat decomposed
since big areas of the skin were missing.

The right side of the body was well-preserved, even though the skin was pierced by the
bones of the shoulder and the lower ribs. Down his back was a long line of sharp cuts
caused by the spades that dug into him when he was discovered in the bog. His hip
socket had pierced the skin on his left side. The skin of the stomach was pleated. The
genitals were well-preserved and that of a man.

Now it was possible to measure him. He wasn't very big - hardly taller than 162
centimetres - but it is possible that he might have shrunk quite a bit during his time in
the bog. We don't know how much he might have shrunk but his feet are big as if they
belonged to a bigger framed man.

During the excavation, which took place in the open air, the Tollund Man was
constantly sprayed with a special liquid. It prevented any growth of bacteria and fungi
which might have destroyed him now that the bog water, which had protected him for
so long, was gone.
Autopsy and X-Rays
On May 31st, 1950 the excavation of the
Tollund Man was completed at the National
Museum, and drawings were made and
photographs taken of him. Then his journey
continued to Bispebjerg Hospital in Copenhagen
in order to carry out the internal exminations of
him and at the same time find out what was the
cause of death.
A forensic examiner examined him as if he was
the victim of a recent murder, and in the report
it says among other things that "the rope,
judging by the way it was placed around the
body's neck, was most likely not used for
strangulation, and because of that it is of less
importance that the cervical vertebras were
undamaged since that sometimes happens when
a person is hanged".

X-rays had shown that the Tollund Man's cervical vertebras weren't broken. When a
person is hanged it is very common that the cervical vertebras break, but still the
forensic examiner had no doubts that the cause of death was hanging.

If you look closely you can see the faint shadow of his cap in the top right corner.
Inside the head you can see the brain which has shrunken a little. In his jaw you can
see his teeth.

New examinations of the brain with an endoscope have shown that it is unusually

The new examinations also show that his tongue had become distended - a
characteristic often seen in a hanged person.

The internal parts were also examined, and they turned out to be well-preserved. The
forensic examiners were able to open the Tollund Man and look at his heart, lungs and

The alimentary canal, which consists of the stomach and intestines, was removed in
order to be studied more closely - in particular to see if any food had been preserved
that might tell us about his last meal before he was hanged.

The fact that his personal hygiene wasn't that good is indicated by the presence of
intestinal worms. He and other bog bodies all had human pinworms in their small and
large intestines which doctors tell us are best kept away if you wash your hands often.
However, even today approximately 75% of us have intestinal worms which makes the
Tollund Man less unusual.

The report from the forensic examiners also tells us that after the Tollund Man had
been examined his head was cut off. It was done in accordance with instructions from
the National Museum because the intention was to try to preserve it as it looked. There
was no interest in preserving the body - it was thought of as being too ghastly and

However, the well-preserved feet and a finger were kept in formalin - a preservative
liquid - so they could be examined later. The finger-print experts with the Danish
National Police Forces examined them in 1976.
X-ray of Tollund Man
In 1978 experts in finger-prints with the
National Police Forces examined one of
the Tollund Man's fingers and his feet,
which had been kept in formalin in order
to prevent them from rotting away.
The pattern on the finger was
well-preserved and thus belongs among
the oldest in the world. The pattern is still
very easy to see. The assistant
commissioner, who did the examination
of the finger and feet, pointed out that the
design of the Tollund Man's finger-print
is quite similar to the ones found on the
people of today.

The report by Assistant Commissioner
H.P. Andersson states among other things:

"...The photograph of the right thumb
shows a typical pattern with curved lines.
Top side of Tollund Man's thumb (top),
and underside of Tollund Man's thumb
This pattern is often seen in prints taken today, and the fact that it is found on the right
thumb is also the case with more than two percent of the prints we have registered in
the Danish police's database of finger-prints."

The assistant commissioner was able to tell that the epidermis was gone. This is
probably due to the Tollund Man's long stay in the bog water - the water must have
caused it to decompose.

When people made earthenware vessels in prehistoric times, they sometimes left their
finger-prints in the wet clay, thus making it possible for us to detect them in the
finished earthenware vessels. But aside from these finger-prints the Tollund Man's
thumb has given us one of the oldest finger-prints in the world.
Stomach Contents
The alimentary canal, which consists of
the stomach and intestines, was removed
by the forensic examiners in order to be
studied more closely - in particular to see
if any food had been preserved that could
tell us more about his last meal.

Most of the meal had passed through the
stomach and into the intestine. Based on
that the doctors were able to conclude
that he must have eaten somewhere in
between 12 to 24 hours before he died.
Tollund Man's alimentary canal.
A specialist in plants was given the stomach contents for further examination. Under
the microscope he was able to see that there were no traces of meat, fish or fresh fruit
among the contents, only grain and seeds.

The specialist in plants found many traces of  barley, flaxseed, false flax and knotgrass.
The last two grow in the wild , whereas barley and flaxseed were cultivated in fields.
Traces of other seeds were also found in the contents - some of them had probably
been gathered, whereas others may have been mixed in by coincidence. The specialist
was able to recognize approximately 40 different kinds of seeds
Carbon-14 Dating
When at the discovery in 1950 the police  
saw the Tollund Man they realized right
away that he was from prehistoric times,
but they were not able to date him more
precisely. When the specialists examined
his last meal, they realized he had lived
around the time of the birth of Christ. The
kind of barley and a number of the other
seeds that were in his last meal were very
common around that time.

A few years after the discovery of the
Nuclear accelerator used for recent
carbon dating.
Tollund Man th scientists started using nuclear physics to date organic objects: wood,
charcoal, bones, leather and similar objects. By the use of a Geiger counter they were
able to measure the amount of radioactive carbon-14 that was left in the organic

While human beings - and other organisms - are alive they absorb carbon. Carbon
comes in carbon-12, carbon-13 and carbon-14 where the latter is radioactive. When the
organism dies, like the Tollund Man, the carbon-14 slowly disappears.

A small sample the size of a thumbnail was taken from the Tollund Man's body and
used as the basis for the readings. Based on that it was possible to calculate that he died
approximately 2,400 years ago.

At the dating laboratory of the National Museum of Denmark, where the carbon-14
datings are done, the scientists were also able to conclude that the Tollund Man wasn't
very fond of eating fish, because if he had been there would have been more carbon-13
in his body. Your main source of carbon-13 is marine animals (fish, seals and
web-footed birds).

In order to reach the most precise dating of the Tollund Man, several tests were done
and as a result of that we are able to say with great certainty that he was hanged 3-400
years before the birth of Christ.
Elling Woman
The Tollund Man is not the only bog
body that has been discovered in
Bjældskovdal - at least three have been
discovered over the years. One was
discovered in 1927 and covered again
shortly after the discovery when the peat
bank collapsed over it - remnants of it
might still be found in the bog.

In 1938 a local farmer named Jens
Zakariassen was digging peat. He struck
something which he first thought was an
animal that had drowned in the bog. "The animal"
turned out to be wearing a belt of woven wool around
its waist and that is when he realized that what he had
discovered would be of interest to archaeologists.

The National Museum was sent for and the body was
moved in the same way as the Tollund Man and
transported to Copenhagen to be examined. The back of
the body was very well-preserved whereas the front of
it was in such poor condition that it was even
impossible to tell whether it was a man or a woman.

However, it was possible to tell that the well-preserved
hairstyle consisted of a long pigtail tied into a knot. The
body was dressed in a skin cloak and a blanket or a
cloak of cowhide had been wrapped around her legs.

Elling Woman was discovered only 80 metres from
where the Tollund Man was to be discovered 12 years
later, but at the time the discovery did not cause much
of a stir. This is primarily due to the fact that it was
impossible to date the body
at the time. It was not until
1976 that the
archaeologists, forensic
examiners, radiologists,
forensic dentists and the
Carbon-14 laboratory of the
National Museum started to
examine the body which
had been brought out from
its hiding place in the archive.

The X-rays revealed that it was a woman who was
approximately 25 years old - a conclusion which was
supported by the forensic dentist.

By studying photographs taken in 1938 the forensic
examiners could tell that there was a clearly visible
furrow around the neck - she had been hanged like the
Tollund Man.

At the same time the carbon-14 method revealed that
she had died at approximately the same time as the
Tollund Man - 280 B.C. - However, the uncertainty
connected with the method makes it impossible for us
to say if Elling Woman and the Tollund Man were
placed in the bog at approximately the same time or if
the sacrifices took place with an interval of 100 years.

Among the things that the National Museum had
collected in 1938 was a rope made of skin that had been
sown together - it is most likely the rope that was used
for hanging her.
The cloak she was wearing
was partially ruined but it
was possible to examine it.
It had been made by using a
very fine thread just like the
one used for the Tollund
Man's cap. In a few places
it had been repaired with a
think leatherstring -
probably a repair that had
been done in the village. The delicate stitches shown on
the photo can only be done by someone who had
received special training.

The neck band of the cloak was very well-preserved,
and it was possible to tell that it had had some kind of
clasp or fastening. Based on many other finds we know
that this kind of cloak was the most common item of
clothing during the early Iron age. It was used by both
men and women. They would often wear two on top of
each other - the one next to the skin would have the fur
side turned inwards whereas the other one would have
the fur side turned outwards. Thus, the two cloaks
would keep the person both warm and dry when it

The way her hair had been was examined closely. It
was possible to tell that it was a pigtail and that the
braiding had started at the top of the head and had gone
down to the neck where it had been tied in a knot. The
hair is red which is probably because it has been dyed
by the bog water. However, it is darker than the
Tollund Man's, and that is an indication that her hair
must have been darker than his. Judging by the hairstyle
her hair must have been approximately 1 metre long.

If you want to recreate the hairstyle you have to start
by making a regular pigtail with the hair from the top of
the head. At the hairline on the back of the neck you
braid the rest of the hair into the braid which is then
divided into seven parts. You braid these together two,
two and three. At the end the pigtail is divided into two
twisted pigtails.

On the day the woman was hanged, the pigtail had been
Elling Woman's cloak,
showing its fine
tied into a knot at the back of her
neck - just like in the photo. If the
pigtail was not tied into a knot, it
could hang loose down her back
and it would have been
approximately 90 centimetres long.

Once she was dead she was buried
in an excavation in the peat bog. A
piece of a cloak of a blanket made
of cowhide was wrapped around
her feet. The woman was placed on
her left side with her head facing
north and her feet pointing south.
Appearance of
Elling Woman's
hairstyle and
Back of the Elling
Woman's head,
showing her braid.
Graubelle Man
excavation in the peat bog just like the other bog bodies.
His face was well-preserved but very distorted. This is
primarily due to the fact that he was killed by having his
throat cut from ear to ear. His left crus was broken but
that probably happened after he died. The weight of the
peat that covered him might have caused his leg to

Grauballe Man's hands and feet were unusually
well-preserved. Grauballe Man can be dated back to
approximately the same time period as the Tollund Man,
the early Iron age. He is now on display at Moesgaard
Museum in Aarhus.

Grauballe Man had been placed in an old excavation in
Two years after the Tollund Man
was discovered - in 1952 -
another body of a man was
discovered in Nebel Mose close
to Silkeborg. The people who
discovered him came from the
village and that is why the man
was given the name Grauballe

He had been buried in an
Graubelle Man
the peat bog pointing
north-south with his face
and chest turned
downwards, with his left leg
stretched and his right leg
and arm bent. You can tell
by studying the excavation in
the peat bog that it was full
of water when he was
placed in it and that he sank
to the bottom of it within a
short period of time. This
indicates that he
Graubelle Man when
he was first discovered.
was placed in the bog during a cold season.

Grauballe Man was approximately 30 years old when he
died. He was completely naked when he was
discovered, which was also the case with the Tollund
Man who was only wearing a cap and a leather belt
when he was discovered. In both cases the clothes
might have been placed close by, which has often been
the case with other bog bodies. The clothes might later
have dissolved and disappeared due to peat-digging.
They might also have worn clothes made of flax and/or
nettle which will not be preserved in the bog.

Just like the Tollund Man Grauballe Man had his
Graubelle Man's well
preserved hands.
aliementary canal examined
to find traces of his last
meal. It turned out to have
consisted of gathered weed
seeds, just as it was the
case with the Tollund Man.
However, small pieces of
bones indicate that meat
was also a part of his last
Graubelle Man's body.