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Encyclopedia > Tollund Man
Preserved full length corpse of the Tollund Man, with rope around neck
Preserved full length corpse of the Tollund Man, with rope around neck

The Tollund Man is the naturally mummified corpse of a man who lived during the 4th century BC, during the time period characterised in Scandinavia as the Pre-Roman Iron Age.[1] He was buried in a peat bog on the Jutland Peninsula in Denmark, which preserved his body. Such a find is known as a bog body.[2] Tollund Man is remarkable for the fact that his body, and in particular the face, was so well preserved that he seemed to have died only recently.[3] Image File history File linksMetadata Tollundman2. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Tollundman2. ... This article is about the corpse preparation method, for other uses of Mummy see Mummy (disambiguation) A mummy in the British Museum A mummy is a corpse whose skin and dried flesh have been preserved by either intentional or accidental exposure to chemicals, extreme cold, very low humidity, or lack... The 4th century BC started the first day of 400 BC and ended the last day of 301 BC. It is considered part of the Classical era, epoch, or historical period. ... Scandinavia is a historical and geographical region centered on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe which includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. ... Iron Age Axe found on Gotland This article is about the archaeological period known as the Iron Age, for the mythological Iron Age see Iron Age (mythology). ... Virgin boreal acid bogs at Browns Lake Bog, Ohio A bog is a wetland type that accumulates peat, a deposit of dead plant material. ... Jutland Peninsula Jutland (Danish: Jylland, German: Jütland) is a peninsula in northern Europe that forms the continental part of Denmark and a northern part of Germany, dividing the North Sea from the Baltic Sea. ... Grauballe man at Mosegaard-Museum, Denmark Bog bodies, also known as bog people, are preserved human bodies found in sphagnum bogs in Northern Europe, Britain and Ireland. ...

Contents

Discovery

On Monday 8 May 1950, Viggo and Emil Højgaard from the small village of Tollund were cutting peat for their stove in the Bjældskovdal peat bog, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) west of Silkeborg, Denmark.[3] As they worked, they noticed in the peat layer a face so fresh that they could only assume that they had discovered a recent murder victim, and notified the police at Silkeborg.[2] The police were baffled by the body, and in an attempt to identify the time of death, they brought in archaeology professor P. V. Glob.[3][4] Glob determined that the body was over two thousand years old, most likely murdered, and thrown into the bog as a sacrifice to fertility goddesses.[3][2] is the 128th day of the year (129th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1950 (MCML) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Peat in Lewis, Scotland Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation matter. ... Hjejlen (The Golden Plover) is an historic steamboat that sails from Silkeborg to Himmelbjerget. ...


Condition

The Tollund Man lay 50 meters (164 ft) away from firm ground, his body arranged in a fetal position, and buried under about 2 meters (6.6 ft) of peat. He wore a pointed skin cap fastened securely under his chin by a hide thong. There was a smooth hide belt around his waist. Otherwise, he was naked. His hair was cropped so short as to be almost entirely hidden by his cap. He was almost clean-shaven, but there was short stubble on his chin and upper lip, suggesting that he had not shaved on the day of his death.[5] There was a rope made of two leather thongs twisted together under a small lump of peat beside his head. It was drawn tight around his neck and throat and then coiled like a snake over his shoulder and down his back.[2] Rawhide is a hide or animal skin that has not been exposed to tanning and thus is much lighter in color than treated animal hides. ...


Scientific examination and conclusions

Tollund Man's face, showing the excellent preservation of his features
Tollund Man's face, showing the excellent preservation of his features

Underneath the body was a thin layer of moss. Scientists know that this moss was formed in Danish peat bogs in the early Iron Age, therefore, the body was suspected to have been placed in the bog approximately 2,000 years ago during the early Iron Age.[3] Subsequent 14C radiocarbon dating of Tollund Man's hair indicated that he died in approximately 400 BC.[6] The acid in the peat, along with the lack of oxygen underneath the surface, had preserved the soft tissues of his body. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Radiocarbon dating is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring isotope carbon-14 (14C) to determine the age of carbonaceous materials up to about 60,000 years[1]. Raw, i. ... The Celtics claim Vienna, Austria. ...


Examinations and X-rays showed that the man's head was undamaged, and his heart, lungs and liver were well preserved. He was not an old man, though he must have been over 20 years old because his wisdom teeth had grown in. The Silkeborg Museum estimates his age as 40 and height at 161 centimetres (5.3 ft), of comparatively short stature even for the time period. It is likely that the body had shrunk in the bog. Wisdom teeth are third molars that usually appear between the ages of 16 and 24 (although they may appear when older, younger, or may not appear at all). ...


He was probably hanged using the rope around his neck. The noose left clear marks on the skin under his chin and at the side of his neck but there was no mark at the back of the neck where the knot was found. Due to skeletal decomposition, it is impossible to tell if the neck had been broken. Hanging is the suspension of a person by a ligature, usually a cord wrapped around the neck, causing death. ...


The stomach and intestines were examined and tests carried out on their contents.[3] The scientists discovered that the man's last meal had been a kind of porridge made from vegetables and seeds, both cultivated and wild: Barley, linseed, gold of pleasure (Camelina sativa), knotweed, bristlegrass, and chamomile. The barley ingested contained large amounts of ergot fungus found on rotted rye. Ergot is an hallucinogenic substance, leading some researchers to argue that this may have been deliberately taken to alter his mental state.[6] Ergotised barley was possibly the source of the visions, and revelations granted to the initiates of the Classical Eleusinian Mysteries. British author John Grigsby argues that Tollund Man may have been killed in the rites of the Goddess Nerthus mentioned by Tacitus in his Germania, in which victims were ritually drowned. In his book 'Beowulf and Grendel' Grigsby suggests that the ingestion of ergot was part of Nerthus's cult and that the subjugation of this religion by the Danes in the 5th and 6th centuries lay behind the epic tale of Beowulf.[7] The last meal is a traditional part of a condemned prisoners last day. ... Binomial name L. Barley (Hordeum vulgare) is an annual cereal grain, which serves as a major animal feed crop, with smaller amounts used for malting and in health food. ... Binomial name Linum usitatissimum L. Linnaeus, 17?? Common flax (also known as linseed) is a member of the Linaceae family, which includes about 150 plant species widely distributed around the world. ... Binomial name Camelina sativa L. Crantz Camelina sativa, usually known in English as gold-of-pleasure or false flax, also occasionally wild flax, linseed dodder, camelina, German sesame, and Siberian oilseed, is a flowering plant in the family Brassicaceae which includes mustard, cabbage, rapeseed, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts. ... Species see text Polygonum cuspidatum fall foliage Polygonum, or knotweed, is a genus in the buckwheat family Polygonaceae. ... Chamomile flowers The name Chamomile or Camomile is ambiguous and can refer to several distinct species. ... Species About 50, including: Claviceps africanum Claviceps fusiformis Claviceps paspali Claviceps purpurea Ergot is the common name of a fungus in the genus Claviceps that is parasitic on certain grains and grasses. ... Binomial name Secale cereale M.Bieb. ... Hallucinogenic drugs or hallucinogens are drugs that can alter sensory perceptions, elicit alternate states of consciousness, or cause hallucinations. ... The Eleusinian Mysteries (Greek: Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια) were initiation ceremonies held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Nerthus (also sometimes Hertha) is a Germanic fertility goddess who was mentioned by Tacitus in his work entitled Germania. ... For other uses, see Tacitus (disambiguation). ... Map of the Roman Empire and the free Germania, Magna Germania, in the early 2nd century For other uses, see Germania (disambiguation). ... This article needs additional references or sources for verification. ... This article is about the epic poem. ...


There were no traces of meat in the man's digestive system, and from the stage of digestion it was apparent that the man had lived for 12 to 24 hours after this last meal. In other words, he may not have eaten for up to a day before his death. Although similar vegetable soups were not unusual for people of this time, two interesting things were noted:[3]

  • The soup contained many different kinds of wild and cultivated seeds. Because these seeds were not readily available, it is likely that some of them were gathered deliberately for a special occasion.
  • The soup was made from seeds only available near the spring where he was found.

Tollund Man today

The body is displayed at the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark, though only the head is original.[3] Conservation techniques for organic material were insufficiently advanced in the early 1950s for the entire body to be preserved. Consequently, only the head was conserved – the rest of the body was not. As displayed today, the original head is attached to a replica of the body. Look up replica in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


Other Jutland bog bodies

Similar bog chemistry was at work in conserving Haraldskær Woman, also discovered in Jutland as a mummified Iron Age specimen. Forensic analysis also suggests a violent death, or perhaps a ritualistic sacrifice, due to presence of noose marks and a puncture wound. Haraldskær Woman in glass covered coffin, Velje, Denmark The Haraldskær Woman (or Haraldskaer Woman) is a well-preserved Iron Age bog body naturally preserved in a bog in Jutland, Denmark. ...


References

  1. ^ Susan K. Lewis - PBS (2006). Tollund Man (English). Public Broadcasting System - NOVA. Retrieved on September 22, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d Barber, Paul; Glob, P. V.; Elizabeth Wayland Barber (2004). The Bog People: Iron-Age Man Preserved. New York: New York Review of Books, 304. ISBN 1-59017-090-3. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Silkeborg Public Library, Silkeborg Museum (2004). The Tollund Man (English). Silkeborg Public Library. Retrieved on September 22, 2007.
  4. ^ (NYRB). P. V. Glob (1911-1985) (English). New York Review of Books (NYRB). Retrieved on September 22, 2007.
  5. ^ Achyut Raj Adhikari (2002). Wetlands for life (English). The Sunday Post. Retrieved on September 22, 2007.
  6. ^ a b Roger Highfield (2001). Experts uncover the magic of Harry Potter's ancestors (English). The Daily Telegraph UK. Retrieved on September 22, 2007.
  7. ^ Grigsby, John L. (2006). Beowulf and Grendel: The Truth Behind England's Oldest Legend. Duncan Baird Publishers/Watkins, 256. ISBN 1-84293-153-9. 

Further reading

  • Coles, Byrony; John Coles (1989). People of the Wetlands: Bogs, Bodies and Lake-Dwellers. London: Thames and Hudson. 

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
The Bog People (0 words)
Tollund Man was discovered in 1950 by two men cutting peat, who were sure he must be a recent murder victim.
Tollund Man was immediately excavated and transported to a museum, where it was determined that he was 2000 years old.
Only Tollund Man's head was conserved, and remains to this day on display at the Silkeborg Museum, six miles from his place of death.
Tollund Man (591 words)
The Tollund man lived about 2,000 years ago and was buried in a peat bog on the Jutland Peninsula in Denmark, a find known as a bog body.
On May 8 1950 brothers Emil and Viggo were cutting peat for their tile stove and the kitchen range in the Tollund peat bog, 10 km west of Silkeborg, Denmark.
There were no traces of meat in the man's digestive system, and from the stage of digestion it was obvious that the man had lived for 12 to 24 hours after this last meal.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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