bog mummy party down

ok, there’s this thing.  when i was really little, i loooved mummies.  my parents had these national geographic magazines and i was really fascinated by the images.

then something happened, and i got scared of mummies for a few years.  some academic types came to my school, and shared photos of their discovery of the long-lost franklin expedition .

what scared me, particularly, was the image of this frozen mummy they’d unearthed.  i even had nightmares…

buuut, i grew out of it.  the nightmares stopped and when i was 17 or 18 i read this cool book called the mummy congress, and got back into mummies!

at this point, it’s been ten years since, and i’m still so into them.  by far, my favourites are bog mummies.  they’re peaceful, even though they met brutal, violent deaths.  they look like they’re sleeping.  their skin has turned leathery brown and hair reddened by the tannins in the bogs where they’ve slept for centuries.

tollund man

bog bodies are so fascinating, partially because of the heavy air of mystery that sits around them. the majority of bodies are from the iron age, although some that are discovered are from later times.

grauballe man

we don’t really know why they ended up in bogs.  many of them met incredibly violent deaths (tollund man, was strangled; grauballe man’s throat was slit), and most evidence points to them being human sacrifies, but there is some evidence that suggests they were executed as punishment for crimes.

yde girl

there’s even speculation that weerdinge men (below) were lovers, because of the intimacy of their embrace.  random fact: after discovery, they were rolled up in  a carpet to keep them safe while being transported from the bog.  this  was possible because after 2,000 years, all the calcium in bones is leached out by the acid nature of the blog.

weerdinge men

in 2004, the glenbow museum held an exhibit of artifacts & mummies found in bogs, and i was very excited to go.  the exhibit started out with the display of ancient (8,000 y old!) artifacts pulled from bogs–farming implements, weapons, etc.  slowly, it wound around toward the mummies and i found myself very afraid.  these were people!  it was the first time i’d seen actual human remains (yde girl, weerdinge men, tollund man) laid out in such a clinical way.  the exhibit was done very respectfully, but i was suddenly very nervous and filled with reverence when viewing these ancient bodies.

hopefully this piqued your interest a bit about the most-tanned of mummies & someday you have a chance to see them, too!

edited to add a topical, rad song suggested by jenanne<3!

4 thoughts on “bog mummy party down

  1. i love bog mummies! i was so sad when i was in copenhagen and that exhibit was closed for renovation 😦 hopefully this year i shall meet them.

    and i was also first introduced to them via those VERY SAME national geographic in my own parents’ collection — heehee! & terrified of the franklin expedition finds… gah. i remember i had to always remember to skip the page in my canadian history book because just seeing that photo absolutely terrified me.

    ps: do you know the mountain goats’ song, ‘tollund man’?

    1. it’s so funny to find out we have the same mummy-histories! the franklin expedition dudes came to my school & showed us a slideshow with those photos when i was only 10! in retrospect, it seems a bit young, or maybe i was just a bit suggestible. i also remember skipping that photo in school books because it chilled me. even now, it’s difficult to look at.

      i had no idea copenhagen had a mummy exhibit! i’m glad you told me, otherwise i might have passed it by.

      i’m looking up tollund man!! thanks for the tip-off.

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