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Grauballe Man: Exceptionally Preserved Bog Body with a Pained Facial Expression

David Goran

The bog body, known as Grauballe Man, was disovered in April 26th, 1952 from a peat bog by a team of Danish peat cutters near the village of Grauballe, Denmark.

It is an Iron Age bog body and one of many mummified bodies discovered in the peat bogs of Denmark and northern Europe.

The face of the Grauballe Man. Photo Credit

The face of the Grauballe Man. Photo Credit

Initially, townsfolk believed it to be the body of a man known as “Red Christian” who disappeared in the area around 1887. Supposedly, he was fond of the drink and people assumed he stumbled into a bog and drowned.

 

The body upon his discovery. Photo Credit

The body upon his discovery. Photo Credit

Grauballe man's body was found two years after the discovery of Tollund Man in a nearby bog. Photo Credit

Grauballe man’s body was found two years after the discovery of Tollund Man in a nearby bog. Photo Credit

He was determined as approximately 30 years old when he died. His hands and feet were unusually well-preserved so the finger prints could be easily read.

A man dating from the late 3rd century BC. Discovered in a peat bog in Jutland, Denmark in 1952. Photo Credit

A man dating from the late 3rd century BC. Discovered in a peat bog in Jutland, Denmark in 1952. Photo Credit

Grauballe Man was initially dated to the late 3rd century BC by analyzing the stratigraphic layer of peat that covered his body. The date was subsequently confirmed by radiocarbon dating his liver, published by the results in 1955.

It was discovered by men cutting peat for fuel about three feet below the surface of the ground. Photo Credit

It was discovered by men cutting peat for fuel about three feet below the surface of the ground. Photo Credit

Experts believe that the man had had his throat slit sometime in the 3rd century BC. This type of wound could not have been self-inflicted, so this clearly discarded any chance of taking his own life, leading experts to presume it to be evidence of a 2300-year-old murder.

Another theory suggests that he might had been killed in a ritualistic sacrifice, possibly an important rite in Iron Age Germanic paganism. Whether he was sacrificed or killed, the mystery remains unraveled.

 

He was most likely killed by having his throat slit. Photo Credit

Most likely, he was killed by having his throat slit. Photo Credit

Upon the initial discovery in 1952, it was moved to the Prehistoric Museum in Aarhus, where it underwent research and conservation. Three years later, the body was displayed at the Moesgaard Museum near Aarhus, where it can be seen today.

We have more wacko stories on Denmark: Rare “death house” found in Denmark confirms the Vikings’ reputation

It is described as “one of the most spectacular discoveries from Denmark’s prehistory”.