Revealed: 2,000-Plus-Year-Old Man’s Last Meal


What Did Tollund Man, One of Europe’s Famed Bog Bodies, Eat Before He Died?

by Nora McGreevy/

Many questions about Tollund Man—arguably the most famous of Europe’s “bog bodies”—remain unanswered. Killed more than 2,000 years ago, the Iron Age man was buried in a peat bog that naturally preserved his body. The exact circumstances of his death remain unclear, but experts “tend to agree that [his] killing was some kind of ritual sacrifice to the gods,” wrote Joshua Levine for Smithsonian magazine in 2017.

What scientists do know for certain are the precise contents of Tollund Man’s last meal: porridge and fish. As Elizabeth Djinis reports for National Geographic, a team led by Nina Helt Nielsen, director of research at Denmark’s Silkeborg Museum, has analyzed the contents of the ancient man’s gut to determine what he ate before he died. The findings are newly published in the journal Antiquity.

Tollund Man’s well-preserved body was first dredged up from the Bjældskovdal peat bog, in north-central Denmark, in 1950. His remains were so intact that authorities initially suspected he was a recent murder victim, notes the Silkeborg on its website. He is one of scores of bog bodies that have been unearthed in wetlands across Britain and northern Europe.

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