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Tollund Man

From Academic Kids

The Tollund Man lived during the late 5th century BC and/or early 4th century BC, about 2,400 years ago. He was buried in a peat bog on the Jutland Peninsula in Denmark, a find known as a bog body. He is remarkable for the fact that his body was so well preserved that he seemed to have died only recently.

On May 6, 1950, the H�jg�rd brothers from the small village of Tollund were cutting peat for their tile stove and kitchen range in the Bj�ldskovdal peat bog, 10 km west of Silkeborg, Denmark. As the two brothers worked, they suddenly saw in the peat layer a face so fresh that they could only suppose that they had stumbled on a recent murder. They immediately notified the police at Silkeborg.

The Tollund Man lay 50 meters away from firm ground, his body arranged in a fetal position, and had been buried under about two meters of peat. He wore a pointed skin cap on his head 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 very short stubble on his chin and upper lip, suggesting that he had not shaved on the day of his death. 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.

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. Subsequent C14 radiocarbon dating of Tollund Man's hair indicated that he died in approximately 350 BC. The acid in the peat, along with the lack of oxygen underneath the surface, had preserved the soft tissues of his body.

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. Silkeborg museum estimates his age as 40 and height at 161cm, comparatively short-statured even for his time period. It is likely, however, that the body has shrunk in the bog.

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