In a new study, the last meal of a 2,400-year-old mummified corpse is revealed.
A new study sheds light on an ancient mummy’s life and death. Scientists have discovered the last meal of the fabled Tollund Man, who was slaughtered some 2,400 years ago in a case of human sacrifice.
Peat diggers unearthed the Tollund Man in 1950, according to the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark. The body was discovered curled up in a bog with a rope around its neck, prompting researchers to believe he had been hanged.
The Tollund Man died when he was 30 to 40 years old, and since he had spent thousands of years in a peat bog, his body was exceptionally well-preserved and organically mummified, providing a rare peek into ancient human life.
The Tollund Man’s complicated past is now being added to by new studies released by Cambridge University Press. The study “re-examined” a variety of “plant macrofossils, pollen, non-pollen palynomorphs, steroid indicators, and proteins” found in the “gut” of an Early Iron Age mummy who died between 405 BC and 380 BC using new methods.
According to the investigation, his last meal consisted of “a porridge including barley, pale persicaria and flax, and maybe some fish,” which he ate 12 to 24 hours before he was killed.
Almost all of the Tollund Man’s re-analyzed material came from his large intestine, and researchers have discovered the particular methods used to make his final meal, in addition to learning what the man ate before his death.
The fragmentation of cereals and other seeds, for example, implies that they were ground before being cooked, while the presence of a burnt food crust in Tollund Man’s gut material suggests that the meal was a porridge cooked in a clay pot.
Scientists aren’t sure if the fish eaten by the Tollund Man (identified by the presence of five peptides typical to bony fish) was cooked with the porridge or separately.
Tollund Man’s remains also contained threshing waste, or seed husks, and he isn’t the first bog body to have consumed them during his last meal. “Wild seeds were an element used for rare events, including human sacrifice,” researchers suggest. They do, however. This is a condensed version of the information.