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Grauballe Man: Ritual Sacrifice or a 2,300-Year-Old Murder Mystery?

Friday, November 4, 2016 7:09
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Grauballe Man: Ritual Sacrifice or a 2,300-Year-Old Murder Mystery?

Of the many ancient remains found preserved in bogs and marshes, perhaps the most interesting is the Grauballe man. Discovered in a peat bog in Jutland, Denmark in 1952, experts believe that the man had had his throat slit sometime in the 3rd century BC. His body was then dumped in the bog. He could have been killed in a ritualistic human sacrifice. Or this could very well be evidence of a 2300-year-old murder.

The Grauballe man was discovered on April 26, 1952, by a team of Danish peat cutters in the bog of Nebelgard Fen, near the village of Grauballe. Initially, townsfolk believed it to be the body of a man known as Red Christian, another local peat cutter known for his drinking. Red went missing around 1887 and is believed to have stumbled drunk into a bog and drowned. This not uncommon fate was the story behind two bodies pulled out of English bogs in Cheshire. Still, the townspeople figured they ought to be sure so they called a local amateur archeologist, Ulrik Balsev, as well as the village doctor. A cursory examination of the man revealed that he was naked and had a terrible grimace on his face. Unable to determine the identity of the man or the cause of death, the locals contacted scientists at the Aarhus museum of Prehistory. Professor Peter Glob came by the next morning and oversaw a team of peat cutters as they removed a large block of peat containing the body. 

Once at the museum, Glob’s team performed a complete examination of the man. He was believed to have been around 30 years old at the time of death. He would have stood at 5 feet, 7 inches (1.75m) tall. The hair still clinging to his head was about 2 inches (5cm) long, however, despite its red appearance, the man was probably not a red head in life (the color was most likely the result of being submerged in the bog). The man had stubble on his chin and his hands and fingers showed no signs of manual labor. – Reconstructing the story of humanity’s past


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