On the last Saturday of April 1952, near the village of Grauballe, Denmark, a group of men were digging in a raised bog they had partially drained. They dug past the upper layer of peat moss into a rich layer of compact dark-brown peat perfect for fuel, their shovels slicing brick-sized chunks. They stacked the peat on the surface. When it had dried, it would be burned for heat in a fireplace or furnace.
That afternoon, though, the men made an unexpected discovery. About three feet below the surface their shovels struck the head of a dead man. His eyes were closed, his face partially flattened by the weight of the peat. His skin was as brown as the earth that surrounded him. The peat cutters quickly reported their find to a local doctor who wondered if it might not be a bog body, that is, a type of natural mummy: the preserved body of a person who was buried in the bog perhaps thousands of years ago. A number of such bodies had been found in Denmark, so the doctor called an archaeologist at the Moesgård Museum of Prehistory in nearby Aarhus.
The next morning Professor P. V. Glob arrived at the site and examined the body of what has come to be called the Grauballe Man....
Copyright © James M. Deem. This excerpt is taken from Bodies from the Bog (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998). All rights reserved.
Grauballe Man (Denmark)