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 Home Examinations Excavation

Excavation at the National Museum of Denmark

The Tollund Man on arrival in his box
The Tollund Man on arrival in his box.
Big picture
On May 17th 1950, shortly after the Tollund Man was discovered, he was sent to the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. After having carefully opened the box the actual excavation of the body began. Two of the conservators of the museum, Knud Thorvildsen and Brorson Christensen, were given the exciting task of removing the last layer of peat which was still covering the body. The head was the first part they uncovered and after that came the body itself.

They later wrote a report about the excavation in which the wrote: "The head was unusually well-preserved. The hair was short (1-2 centimetres long). His eye brows were partly preserved. On his upper lip, chin and cheeks appeared very short but thick stubble. His eyes were closed, his mouth, whose lips were well-preserved, was closed, too. His face was at peace af if he was sleeping quietly.

The upper part of his body was bent slightly forward and most of the skin had been preserved. However, the left side of his chest and shoulder was somewhat decomposed since big areas of the skin were missing.

The Tollund Man after being turned over
The Tollund Man after being turned
over. Big picture
The right side of the body was well-preserved, even though the skin was pierced by the bones of the shoulder and the lower ribs. Down his back was a long line of sharp cuts caused by the spades that dug into him when he was discovered in the bog. His hip socket had pierced the skin on his left side. The skin of the stomach was pleated. The genitals were well-preserved and that of a man.

Now it was possible to measure him. He wasn't very big - hardly taller than 162 centimetres - but it is possible that he might have shrunk quite a bit during his time in the bog. We don't know how much he might have shrunk but his feet are big as if they belonged to a bigger framed man.

During the excavation, which took place in the open air, the Tollund Man was constantly sprayed with a special liquid. It prevented any growth of bacteria and fungi which might have destroyed him now that the bog water, which had protected him for so long, was gone.

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Excavation at the National Museum

Autopsy and X-rays
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Carbon-14 dating
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The finger-prints were well-preserved and are among the oldest in the world...

Examination of the stomach contents
The alimentarry canal, that means the stomach and intestines, was removed...

Latest research: CT-scanning
The latest technology can reveal secrets and provide us with new information...

Preservation of the Tollund Man
When the Tollund Man was discovered in 1950, the Danish scientists had never before been faced with the task of preserving a bog body...

The Tollund Man before he was turned over
The Tollund Man before he was turned over. Big picture

The Tollund Man before he was turned over
The Tollund Man before he was turned over. Big picture

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