Throughout northern Europe, a small population known as the bog people continue to offer unbelievable insight into ancient life. It consists of around 500 skeletons dating back to 800 B.C. and 200 A.D that were discovered at the bottom of numerous bogs.
The mummified bodies are almost perfectly preserved — eyebrows and all — allowing modern science to discover never before known details about their origins.
Farmers began discovering the preserved bodies in the 1800s. Bogs are acidic and low on oxygen, which preserves human skin, hair, clothes and stomach contents exceptionally well.
Plus the bogs’ accumulated layers of dead moss seal everything in.
The most famous of the bodies is the “Tollund Man.” Found in 1950 on Denmark’s Jutland Peninsula, the man is so well-preserved that he still has his five o’clock shadow.
Found with a rope around his neck, scholars think the man was a human sacrifice rather than a hanged criminal because of his body position and calm facial expression.
Originally thought to be lowly criminals or commoners, new chemical tests are putting that theory into question. Research shows that the bog people traveled long distances and had clothes that were made in foreign lands.
One of the bodies, known as the “Huldremose Woman,” wore clothes that were dyed blue and red and, possibly, had a ring on one of her fingers. Having dyed clothes and jewelry were signs of wealth — an interesting note in unveiling her true identity.
With new developments in strontium isotope testing technology, researchers are now studying the subjects’ hair to learn about their travel records. The results of these tests are still unpublished, but early indications are clear: The bog people traveled, a lot.
Now, the real question is who they were and why they died — wealthy travelers, affluent traders, or something even more important?This question may never be answered, but with more scientific clues being unearthed, researchers are excited to learn as much as they can about these mysterious people.