The Last Supper of the Most Famous “Bog Body” in History Alludes to Human Sacrifice
Tollund Man is one of the most famous “bog bodies” ever discovered in Northern Europe.
Even though the 30- to 40-year-old man was buried in a bog over 2,400 years ago, the acidic peat mummified his body to a remarkable degree, preserving his hair, brain, skin, fingernails and her intestines – even the leather noose around her neck.
Despite all the evidence, we still don’t really know why he was killed. An updated scan of the man’s gut has now revealed all of the contents of his last meal, and it looks more and more like some kind of human sacrifice.
About a day before the Tollund man was hanged and buried in the bog, researchers say he ate porridge containing barley, flax, and plant and weed seeds.
It’s similar to what scientists discovered in the early 1950s when the body was first discovered in what is now modern Denmark. But unlike past analyzes, she also noticed a few new ingredients, such as fatty protein from fish as well as leftover threshing waste, which comes from separating the grains.
This is an intriguing find, as a recent analysis of another bog body, known as Grauballe Man, also revealed a surprisingly large amount of never-before-noticed pile-up waste.
Grauballe’s Man was also killed and buried in an acid bog, and the similar contents of his last meal to Tollund’s Man’s last meal may indicate some sort of ritual.
While other bog bodies appear to have eaten porridge or bread with an accompaniment of meat or berries, threshing waste and an abundance of seeds may indicate a special occasion. Either that or those ingredients were just added for flavor or nutrition.
“While the meal may reflect an ordinary Iron Age fare, the inclusion of threshing waste could possibly be linked to ritualistic practices,” the authors write.
This is not the first time that the Man from Tollund or the Man from Grauballe have been suspected of sacrifices.
While other bodies found in the bogs might have died or drowned in the peat by accident, the way Tollund’s man was killed and then carefully buried, with his eyes and mouth closed and his body in a fetal position, does think to some scientists that it was a sacrifice to the gods.
Considering that the Tollund Man was buried near a place where the Iron Age people were digging for peat, it is possible that his body represents a form of gratitude for the land.
Some accounts by Roman historians of the time have even written of similar human sacrifices in northwestern Europe, although these are often biased reports that could have stretched the truth on certain tribes.
Aside from how Tollund’s Man was buried, his gut is one of the juiciest clues we have.
More research will be needed to determine if other bog bodies were also eating meals containing threshing waste or seeds, or if they were in fact special ingredients given to humans before they were sacrificed. .
Tollund’s man may be long dead, but his mystery continues to live on.
The study was published in antiquity.