May 6, 1950
Two brothers find the body of a 2300 year old mummy
The mummy, later dubbed the Tollund Man, was discovered in a peat bog as the brothers were cutting peat. Because the mummy was so well preserved, they initially believed the corpse to be a recently murdered person and informed police.
Professor of archeology P. V. Glob was brought in and stated the body was over 2000 years old and a victim of human sacrifice. He noted the body’s fetal positioning and naked appearance (aside from a sheepskin and wool cap on his head and a belt around his waist) as an intentional dressing and positioning common with ceremonial sacrifice. Carbon dating placed the time of death around 375-210 BC. The body was so well preserved, and in particular the right thumb, that a fingerprint was able to be obtained in 1976.
Initial examinations in 1950 suggested the Tollund Man had been hanged with the noose still around his neck, rather than strangled. He exhibited marks from the rope around the front portion his neck, but lacked an indent from the noose itself. The Tollund Man was re-examined in 2002, and the previous theory was further substantiated by finding the man’s tongue was distended, a common symptom of hanging. Additionally, burial rites in Denmark at the time involved cremating the dead, except sacrifices who were buried in the bogs.
Today, only the Tollund Man’s head remains. Conservation techniques in the 1950s were limited, so it was suggested the mummy’s head be severed and preserved separately. The unpreserved body deteriorated and decayed outside of its protective peat resting place and was replaced with a replica. The replicated body and original head are on display the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark.
www.tollundman.dk is beautifully and respectfully crafted page dedicated to the Tollund Man: his life immediately preceding his death, his death and burial, the discovery of his body, and his natural preservation.