Graveyard Shift 14 Strange and Gruesome Facts About Bog Bodies  

Laura Allan
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In 1640, a strange body was discovered in the peat bogs of Shalkholz Fen, Germany. It was intact but ancient, and it became the first documented case of a bog body ever found. These bog mummies are unique in the fact that their hair, skin, and even clothes are incredibly well preserved, despite their age. Unlike many other mummies, even the dead's facial expressions are often left in place, offering archeologists valuable information about the time, place, and manner of these people's lives and deaths.

Bog bodies - also called bog people - have been found around the world, and each find gives scientists a closer look at those who came before us. Sometimes the bog bodies tell dark tales, particularly concerning their deaths, a few of which suggest murder or ritual sacrifice.
 

The Majority Of Bog Bodies Show Signs Of A Violent Death

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With the average mummy found in Egypt, the cause of death varies widely - disease, an accident, a bone or birth defect, and more. However, when scientists look at the mummies pulled out of peat bogs, they find that they generally have one thing in common: a violent passing. The majority of these bodies show that these people were murder victims or possibly sacrifices. 

A few have their skulls broken, some show signs of being beaten for long periods of time, and one or two showed evidence of being repeatedly stabbed. A few famous ones still have nooses around their necks upon discovery. 
 

The Dätgen Man Might Have Been An Ancient Zombie

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Photo:  Bullenwächter/via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

The Dätgen Man was found in Germany in 1959, with the head separated from the body. The decapitated body was staked down to the ground, under the peat, indicating that someone had done this post-mortem. The body also exhibited evidence of multiple lacerations.

According to archaeologist K. W. Struve, the treatment of the Dätgen Man’s remains indicates that the people might have thought he would rise from the grave as a wiedergänger - or a zombie. German folklore dictates that certain types of people, such as criminals, were thought to return. 
 

The Internal Organs Usually Remain Intact

One facet about bog bodies that intrigues scientists is that the skin and internal organs often remain preserved. The Dröbnitz Girl was discovered in Poland in 1939, and she was found to have amazingly preserved internal organs. Upon analysis, it was found that her stomach was intact enough to examine her last meal

Archeologists determined that the roughly 14-year-old girl had been eating gruel and several types of vegetables before her death, so she was relatively well fed. They also discovered a cloak and a wooden comb with the remains, concluding she lived around the year 650 BC. Further analysis can’t be conducted on the remains, as her body and grave were destroyed during World War II.
 

Many Bog Bodies Are Boneless

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Photo:  Einsamer Schütze/via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

When scientists and archeologists examine bog bodies, they find that most of the bones have been dissolved or destroyed. The remains are just skin, organs, and hair. The skull, hands, and feet seem to be the last parts to retain their bone structure. 

During the mummification process that happens in many peat bogs, acids get into the body. The acids seep into the bones and dissolve the calcium phosphate there, which completely destroys the bones' structure and hardness. Because internal organs, skin, and hair contain little or no calcium phosphate, the acids don't attack them the same way.