Bog Bodies (Video Included)

Bog bodies, which are also known as bog people, are the naturally preserved human corpses found in the sphagnum bogs in Northern Europe. Unlike most ancient human remains, bog bodies have retained their skin and internal organs due to the unusual conditions of the surrounding area. These conditions include highly acidic water, low temperature, and a lack of oxygen, combining to preserve but severely tan their skin. Despite the fact that their skin is preserved, their bones are generally not, as the acid in the peat dissolves the calcium phosphate of bone.


The German scientist Dr Alfred Dieck catalogued the known existence of over 1,850 northern European bog bodies in 1965, but according to the actual state of scientific research many of his finds can not be verified by documents or archaeologic finds. Most, although not all, of these bodies have been dated to the Iron Age, and many of them show signs of having been killed and deposited in a very similar manner, indicating some sort of ritual element, which many archaeologists believe show that these were the victims of human sacrifice in Iron Age Germanic paganism. Some of the most notable examples of bog bodies include Tollund Man and Grauballe Man from Denmark and Lindow Man from England.


There are a limited number of bogs which have the correct conditions for preservation of mammalian tissue. Most of these are located in the colder climes of northern Europe near bodies of salt water. For example, in the area of Denmark where the Haraldskær Woman was recovered, salt air from the North Sea blows across the Jutland wetlands and provides an ideal environment for the growth of peat. As new peat replaces the old peat, the older material underneath rots and releases humic acid, also known as bog acid. The bog acids, with pH levels similar to vinegar, conserve the human bodies in the same way as fruit is preserved by pickling.


Learn more from Wikipedia.

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12 Responses to Bog Bodies (Video Included)

  1. gregoryno6 says:

    Is that fellow in the first picture actually dead?
    No, no, ‘e’s uh,…he’s resting.

  2. travelrat says:

    I agree finding such bodies gives archaelologists an excellent insight into those days … I don’t know if you ever heard of the ‘Amesbury Archer’, who was found about a mile from where I live.

    But, after they’ve done all their tests and researches … I really think the bodies ought to be re-interred, and not put on public view in a museum or something.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi travelrat,
      No I have never heard of the “Amesbury Archer”, was this also an Ancient body?
      You make a good point about returning the bodies, but for some reason, this never seems to happen. In a lot of museums in a lot of different Countries there is always at least one human from Ancient times. I think once found these bodies are always kept, and some are on display. The Mummy room at the Cairo Museum is a good example.

  3. magsx2 says:

    Hi travelrat,
    From Wikipedia:-

    The Amesbury Archer is an early Bronze Age man whose grave was discovered during excavations at the site of a new housing development in Amesbury near Stonehenge. The grave was uncovered in May 2002, and the man is believed to date from about 2300 BC. He is nicknamed the “archer” because of the many arrowheads that were among the artifacts buried with him. Had he lived near the Stones, the calibrated radiocarbon dates for his grave and dating of Stonehenge suggest the sarsens and trilithons at Stonehenge may have been raised by the time he was born, although a new bluestone circle may have been raised at the same time as his birth.

    Very Interesting, what a shame they didn’t have a photo of him. I find it fascinating the things that are learned from Ancient Man.

  4. EternalForms says:

    fascinating. i wouldn’t think that being submerged in water would bring about the right conditions for preservation, or even the presence of acids for that matter … but science proves otherwise. they really are very well preserved. they must have to keep them in very controlled environment to keep them from rotting quickly once exposed.

  5. EternalForms says:

    oh, and the artist’s recreation of what the girl would have looked like is just creepy!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Eternal Forms,
      Yes that is a good point, keeping them in a controlled environment, they do this in the Cario Museum with the Mummies.

      It’s really good how they can recreate faces now, it must help in a lot of different ways.

  6. Pingback: Ancient Cemetery Discovered : Green Sahara (Video) | Magsx2's Blog

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