In October, archaeologists working with the Roskilde Museum (ROMU) in Denmark uncovered ancient human remains in a bog in Egedal, the museum announced in a statement early this month.
During the dig, archaeologists uncovered the legs, pelvis, and jaw of a person who likely lived some 5,000 years ago. The skeleton did not contain traces of violence, such as knife marks or nasty breaks. However, archaeologist Emil Winther Struve nevertheless said that the team believes the remains were of a human sacrifice ritual.
“The find fits into a proven tradition of ritually burying both objects, people and animals in the bog,” said Struve in the statement. “This has been widely done throughout ancient times, and this is most likely a victim of such a ritual. Previous finds show that this is an area where ritual activity has taken place.”
Danish archaeologists have long discovered the ritual remains of humans, animals, and objects in Danish bogs, whose antiseptic conditions created by the interactions of sphagnum moss interacts with peat and water has resulted in numerous finds of well preserved human remains.
The oldest so-called “bog body” on record comes from a bog near the Danish city of Odense. Known as the Koelbjerg Man, he is estimated to have lived some 8,000 years ago. Two other bog bodies, the Tollund Man and the Elling Woman, were discovered in the same bog and had been killed in the same way, by hanging. Archaeologists believe that these were not criminal punishments but rather ritual killings, due to how the bodies were treated after death.
The remains in Edegal were discovered after a construction project was slated to destroy the bog to make way for a housing development. ROMU sent in an archaeological team to ensure no cultural heritage would be lost during the destruction. The remains discovered in Edegal are not nearly as well preserved as some of these other famous cases, as only the skeleton remains.
The Edegal bog will now require a full archaeological investigation if the construction still plans to disturb the bog. Other parts of the housing development however will continue as planned.