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Secrets of the Bog Mummies and the Importance of Bogs


Archaeology and history of bogs and why they are so important today.

Making a Mummy

Making a Mummy

Tollund Man, 400-300 B.C.

Tollund Man, 400-300 B.C.

Lindow Man, Reconstructed

Lindow Man, Reconstructed

What Is A Bog And Who Were The Mummies?

Typically, a bog contains acidic minerals and spongy centuries of organic materials often used for fertilizer and fuel for burning. Pet is an organic soil of poorly decomposed plants, especially sphagnum moss where lack of oxygen leaving stagnant water plus acids released inhibit bacteria. Without bacteria, things don't decompose. The sphagnum moss is the building block of bogs.

Bogs are found mostly in Denmark, Netherlands, Ireland, Europe, Canada, and America. For thousands of years, peat was cut and used as fuel for heating homes. Most of the bog mummies were found by accident while bog cutters were harvesting the peat.

The bog mummies date back thousands of years, dating back to the Iron Age. Since there were no written records of this time period, archaeologists can give us a 'look' into the past. We can learn of their culture, how they lived, what their diet consisted of, and clues about their human behavior.

Several explanations about who the mummies were and why they ended up in bogs. It could be by accident, punishment, prisoners, slaves, or robberies. Another explanation is the ritual sacrifice of victims. During the Iron Age, sacrifices were made, some voluntarily, for the purpose of stopping the Romans from warring with the Celts. Many of the mummies suffered violent deaths.

Bog Scotland

Bog Scotland

Burns Bog British Columbia

Burns Bog British Columbia

Map of Discoveed Bogs

Map of Discoveed Bogs

Some Famous Bog Mummies

The oldest bog mummy, called Koelbjerg Man, was discovered in 1941 near Grauballe, Denmark. He has been radiocarbon dated to 8000 B.C. Still visible were his finger and toenails and hair on his body. Koelbjerg is on display at the Montergarden Museum, Odense, Denmark. Here are a few other excavated bodies:

  • Grauballe Man, discovered 1952 Denmark, dated to 100 B.C.-100 A,D,
  • Tollund Man, discovered 1950, t the Silkeborg Museum
  • Elling Woman was discovered in 1935, dated 280 B.C.
  • Cashe Man, discovered 2011, Ireland, dated 2000 B.C.
  • Lindow Man, discovered 1984, England.
  • Stoney Island Man discovered 1929, Ireland, dated to 3320 B.C.
Hand of Grauballe Man

Hand of Grauballe Man

Bogs of North America and Canada

Discovered in 1982, called the Windover Site, it is located between Cape Canaveral and Disney World. Glen Doran, FSU archaeologist, discovered 168 skeletons void of skin. Fortunately, the developer allowed excavations for FSU, and as a result, he was awarded the Interior Department of Public Service Medal. Doran continued his work over three years. As of now, he is leaving for the next archaeologist to discover more at a later date.

Other bogs include Philbrick-Cicenti, New Hampshire, Tannersville Cranberry, Pennsylvania, Volo Bog, Chicago, Illinois, Burns Bog, British Columbia. The Burns Bog can store ten times more carbon than rainforest and is home to over 400 migratory birds.

Windover Bog, Florida

Windover Bog, Florida

The Importance of Blogs

So, discovering bog mummies has given a wealth of information on our ancient history. Today, another problem exists for the environment. That is the immediate restoration of the peatlands to aid in climate control. It is now an emergency, and thankfully, scientists are promoting action at the highest level.

Bogs are extremely important to our ecological system and aid in climate control. If all the peat were removed and drained, this would release a large volume of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere impacting the greenhouse effect. They not only improve our air quality but also house unique habitats for birds and animals. They are one of the most important ecosystems on earth.

Threats to bogs are the continual encroachment on agricultural land, golf courses, human population, and urban growth. For the past few decades, the push to stop peat harvest has generally been ignored, but the government may be stepping in to legislate this. Alternatives to peat can be coconut coir, bark or wood chips, pine needles, manure, leaf mold, or compost. Many retailers are cognizant of the importance of peat and are now offering several alternatives. One offered at Walmart is called "Back To The Basics." At other retailers, look for the words 'peat free'.

Scotland is leading the efforts to restore the habitat of peat bogs and is the first to declare a climate emergency. As a result, researchers are flocking to Scotland to gain insights into their peatland restorations.

Wildlife Trust organization is asking for public help in regulating and using peat. A pledge can be found on their website to sign for 'Pet Free.'

There is a poem by Seamus Heaney about the Tollund Man. Heaney is an Irish poet, playwright, translator, and winner of the 1995 Pulitzer Prize in Literature. His poem can be found at www.bbe.co.uk/northernireland/schools/11_16/poetry.

Sources Used






fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on July 29, 2021:

Joanne, thanks for your visit. I found this so interesting and how now the importance of peat and climate control.

Joanne Hayle from Wiltshire, U.K. on July 29, 2021:

Thanks for educating me about something I never really considered before. Bog mummies - who knew?!

fran rooks (author) from Toledo, Ohio on July 29, 2021:

Rosina, thanks for visiting. I too learned the importance of peat bogs. Thanks for your comment.

Rosina S Khan on July 29, 2021:

Fran, it was intriguing to know about bogs and bog mummies. Your article educated me on the subject matter. Thank you for a wonderful article.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 29, 2021:

This is a very interesting article, Fran. I didn't know anything about the bog mummies. I knew bogs were importnat for CO2. I learned a lot from your article. Thanks for sharing this information.

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