Last meal of a man mummified in a bog reconstructed after 2400 years

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By Christa Lesté-Lasserre

Tollund Man

The well-preserved caput of Tollund Man

A. Mikkelsen

An past antheral ate a elemental repast of cooked cereals and food earlier being hanged and dumped successful a bog 2400 years ago.

Tollund Man was astir 40 years aged erstwhile helium died successful what is present Denmark. He was astir apt offered arsenic a human sacrifice, and the peat bog helium was buried successful mummified his assemblage successful bonzer detail. Dozens of different Iron Age Europeans were sacrificed successful the aforesaid way, and they are collectively referred to arsenic “bog bodies”.

Danish scientists archetypal analysed Tollund Man’s intestinal contents soon aft his assemblage was discovered successful 1950. They recovered 20 works taxon and 1 taxon of parasite.

But present Nina Helt Nielsen astatine Museum Silkeborg successful Denmark and her colleagues person tally caller analyses connected the contents of Tollund Man’s ample intestine, investigating works fossils, pollen and – for the archetypal clip successful immoderate bog assemblage – a afloat scope of non-pollen microfossils, steroids and proteins.

food ingredients

Ingredients that made up Tollund Man’s past meal

N.H. Nielsen

The probe revealed the beingness of intestinal worm proteins and eggs – belonging to whipworm (Trichuris), tapeworm (Taenia) and mawworm (Ascaris) – arsenic good arsenic the man’s partially digested dinner. He ate porridge made up of astir 85 per cent barley, 5 per cent flax and 9 per cent seeds from a works called pale persicaria. Food crust indicated that the porridge was somewhat burned and had been cooked successful a clay pot.

About 20 different taxon represented little than 1 per cent of the full repast and were astir apt consumed accidentally. Tollund Man had besides eaten a fatty-boned fish, similar eel. He astir apt picked up the parasites from eating poorly cooked nutrient and drinking unclean h2o good earlier his death, says Nielsen.

As for his past meal, it was mostly mean for the time. “I’m beauteous definite we would spot thing akin if we analysed the gut contents of different bog bodies,” says Nielsen – though the airy persicaria seeds mightiness person been a peculiar summation arsenic portion of a sacrificial ritual.

At astir 1350 kilocalories, Tollund Man’s past repast would person provided fractional his regular nutritional needs – and has been preserved successful specified item that “we could astir reproduce the recipe”, she says.

Journal reference: Antiquity, DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2021.98

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