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Haraldskjaer Woman
Human Mummy
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Biographical Information
Name(s)
Age 40
Sex F
Status undetermined
Height
Source
Culture Scandenavian
Date(s) 500 BC.
Site Jutland, Denmark
Current Location
Location St Nicolai Church in Vejle, Denmark
Catalog #
Also known as Haraldskær Woman or Haraldskaer Woman, it is a well-preserved Iron Age bog body naturally preserved in a bog in Jutland, Denmark. The body was discovered in 1835 by labourers excavating peat on the Haraldskær Estate. Disputes regarding the age and identity of this mysterious well preserved body were settled in 1997, when radiocarbon dating determined conclusively that her death occurred around 500 BC.

The body of the Haraldskær Woman is remarkably preserved due to the anaerobic conditions and tannins of the peat bog in which she was found. Not only was the intact skeleton found, but also the skin and internal organs. Her body lies in state in an ornate glass-covered coffin, allowing viewing of the full frontal body, inside the Church of Saint Nicolai in central Vejle, Denmark. After discovery of the body, early theories of her identity centered on the persona of Queen Gunnhild of Norway, who lived around 1000 CE. Based upon the belief of her royal personage, King Frederick VI of Denmark-Norway commanded an elaborately carved sarcophagus to hold her body.

This careful treatment of the Haraldskær Woman's remains explains the excellent state of conservation of the corpse;[3] carbon-14 dating proved she was much older period than Gunnhild. Studies show she was around 50 years old and in good health when she died. Her clothing was placed on top of her naked body.

Mummification

Naturally preserved by bog. The anaerobic conditions and acids of the peat bog contributed to the body's excellent preservation. Not only was the intact skeleton found, but so were the skin and internal organs.

Excavators found the body of the Haraldskær Woman in a supine position in an excellent state of preservation. She was naked and her clothes, consisting of a leather cape and three woolen garments, had been placed on top of her.[8] Hurdles of branches and wooden poles pinned the body down.[9] The complete skin envelope and the internal organs were both intact. The body had a lancing wound to the knee joint area, where some object (possibly one of the sharp poles) penetrated to some depth.[10] Her skin was deeply bronzed with a robust skin tone due to tannins in the peat, and all the body joints were preserved with overlying skin in a state as if she had died only recently.

Studies

King Frederick VI had a beautiful sarcophagus carved for this alleged royal mummy, in which it was laid to rest in the church of St. Nicholas in Vejle. Not everyone was convinced that the remains derived from Queen Gunhild, and a heated controversy arose. In 1977 a carbon date proved that the body predated the period in which Queen Gunnhilde lived by some 1,500 years.

en the body was re-examined in 2000 by the Department of Forensic Science at the University of Aarhus, they found that her stomach content revealed a meal of unhusked millet and blackberries.

Pathology

A CT-scan of the cranium more accurately determined her age to be about 40 years old. She died in good health without signs of degenerative diseases. On her neck, there was groove as if someone strangled her.

Additional

The body of the Haraldskaer Woman is on display in a glass-covered sarcophagus in the northern transept of St Nicolai Church in Vejle, Denmark.

External Links

Featured in: http://archive.archaeology.org/online/features/bog/gunhild.html

References

  1. Ebbesen, Klaus (1986). Døden i mosen (in Danish). Copenhagen: Carlsen’s Forlag. p. 7.ISBN 978-87-562-3369-9. OCLC 18616344.
  2. Aldhouse-Green, Miranda J (2004). An archaeology of images [Iconology and cosmology in Iron Age and Roman Europe]. London/New York: Routledge. p. 93. ISBN 0-415-25253-9.OCLC 53099015.
  3. Archaeological Institute "Haraldskaer Woman: Bodies of the Bogs", Archaeology,Archaeological Institute of America, December 10, 1997.
  4. Fodor, John D. Rambow, ed. (2002). Denmark [the guide for all budgets, completely updated]. Fodor's Scandinavia. New York/London: Fodor's. ISBN 0-676-90203-0.
  5. Ashley, Julian; Lock (1998). The Mammoth Book of British Kings and Queens. New York: Carroll & Graf. p. 443. ISBN 978-0-7867-0405-7.
  6. Rowley-Conwy, Peter (2007). From Genesis to Prehistory: The Archaeological Three Age System and Its Contested Reception in Denmark, Britain, and Ireland. Oxford University Press. p. 70.ISBN 0-19-922774-8.
  7. Hvass, Lone, Dronning Gunhild - et moselig fra jernalderen, Sesam, (1998), p. 26. ISBN 87-7801-725-4
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