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Digging up bodies from the peat bog [da]

onsdag den 4. juli 2012

You can read more about this in my former post or at Skanderborg Museum’s website: Alken Enge: An archaeological location with an exceptionally high research potential

Archaeologists dig up bog army bones in Denmark [da]

onsdag den 4. juli 2012

Interesting things are still being dug out of the Danish peat bogs: Just read this story from Reuters:

By John Acher
COPENHAGEN | Wed Jul 4, 2012 1:22am IST

(Reuters) - Danish archaeologists said on Tuesday they had re-opened a mass grave of scores of slaughtered Iron Age warriors to find new clues about their fate and the bloody practices of Germanic tribes on the edge of the Roman Empire.

Bones of around 200 soldiers have already been found preserved in a peat bog near the village of Alken on Denmark’s Jutland peninsula.

Experts started digging again on Monday, saying they expected to find more bodies dating back 2,000 years to around the time of Christ.

“I guess we will end up with a scale that is much larger than the 200 that we have at present,” Aarhus University archaeologist Mads Kahler Holst told Reuters.

“We have only touched upon a very small part of what we expect to be there … We have not seen anything like this before in Denmark, but it is quite extraordinary even in a European perspective,” he added, speaking by phone from the site on damp grazing meadows near Jutland’s large lake of Mossoe.

The first bones, belonging to people as young as 13, were discovered in 2009. Cuts and slashes on the skeletons showed they had died violently, said Holst. But nothing was known for sure about the identity of the killers, or their victims.

“That is one of the big mysteries … We don’t know if it is local or foreign - we would expect it to be local,” Holst said.

“We think it is a sacrifice related to warfare and probably the defeated soldiers were killed and thrown into the lake,” he said.

The remains are from the beginning of the Roman Iron Age, though Roman armies never reached so far north.

“It was the time when the Roman Empire had its greatest expansion to the north,” Holst said. But even that push only got the Romans as far as modern day Germany, a few hundred kilometers to the south of the Danish site.

“This conflict could have been a consequence of the Roman expansion, its effect on the Germanic world,” Holst said.

He said the discovery could shed new light on what happened in those centuries beyond the borders of the Roman Empire.

“It will also tell about what level of military organization existed in this northern European area,” he said.

Similar discoveries of sacrificed warriors from a few hundred years earlier have been made at Celtic sites in France, Holst said.

The soggy conditions at Alken have delayed decomposition so the remains are unusually well preserved, he said.

The remains are so well preserved that experts will be able to analyze their DNA - a rare achievement in remains so old, said Ejvind Hertz, curator of archaeology at Skanderborg Museum.

Preliminary DNA tests have been carried out at a laboratory on six teeth and two femur bones. “There was not much in the femurs but there was in the teeth - teeth are good at preserving DNA,” Hertz said.

The DNA of people who lived at that time would not normally differ from the DNA of today’s Scandinavians. If differences are found, it could point to a foreign army from southern Europe, Hertz said.

(Reporting by John Acher; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Read more about the project here:

The Body in the Bog: The Lindow Man [da]

søndag den 17. juni 2012

QED charts the story of the discovery and investigation of a 2500-year-old murder victim found in a peat bog in Cheshire - the first Iron age bog body to be found in Britain. Scientific investigation established that ‘Pete Marsh’ or Lindow man had a last meal of bread before being ritually killed, first by a stunning blow to the head, then garrotting and finally having his throat cut before being dumped in a shallow pool.

According to Wikipedia the documentary attracted 10m viewers when broadcast in 1985.

The Grauballe Man [da]

fredag den 8. juni 2012

The bog body now known as the Grauballe Man was found on the 26th of April 1952, near the village of Grauballe in the central part of Jutland in Denmark. He was discovered by men cutting peat for fuel about three feet below the surface of the ground. When they were digging one of the workers, Tage Busk Sørensen (standing far right on picture no. 2) , stuck his spade into something that he immediately knew was not peat; he noticed the red hair of the Grauballe man pupping up and he soon realised that he had found the head of a human body. The local doctor was called and he quickly realised that this was not a job for neither him nor the police and Professor P.V. Glob from the Prehistory Museum at Aarhus was summoned.

Picture No. 1: The Grauballe Man in situ (photographed by P.V. Glob)

Picture No. 2: P.V. Glob and the peat workers. Tage is standing at the far right.

Grauballe Man – portrait of a bog body [da]

mandag den 4. juni 2012

I was lucky today and found this book for almost no money (the Danish version).


Grauballe Man was about 34 years old when he met his death. He died from a deep cut to the throat. His right shinbone was also fractured. He undoubtedly suffered a violent end - he was executed - and was then laid naked in a water-filled peat cutting in the bog. The ultimate sacrifice was made that day around 290 BC - a human life - to the supernatural powers or in the service of some other urgent cause. Few finds from Denmark’s prehistory enjoy the attention and interest afforded by the public and the media to Grauballe Man, who is exhibited at Moesgaard Museum, south of Aarhus, Denmark. With this book in hand it is not difficult to imagine a person of flesh and blood who wandered around during the first centuries of the Iron Age, long before Caesar was born. Archaeologist Pauline Asingh of Moesgaard Museum presents the very latest discoveries about Grauballe Man, his life, his afterlife, his bog and the interpretation of him and his time. In telling his story she brings prehistory dramatically to life.

Buy from the Moesgaard Museum Shop: Danish, English or German

Buy at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Grauballe-Man-Portrait-JUTLAND-SOCIETY/dp/8700796557