Osterby Man
Biographical Information
Name(s) Unknown
Age 50-60 years old
Sex Male
Status Deceased
Height N/A
Culture German
Date(s) A.D. 1-100
Site Osterby, Germany
Current Location
Location State Archaeological Museum at Gottorf Castle

Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Catalog #

Discovered in a bog at Kohlmoor near Osterby, Germany, this elderly male mummy is most notably recognized because of the well-preserved hair, tied in a Swabian knot. This particular hairstyle according to the Roman historian Tacitus, is common of the Suebi tribe of Germany.


After death by a blow to the head, the decapitated head of this man was wrapped in a deerskin cape. As a result, low oxygen and temperature levels, and tannin in bogs, mummification occurred.


Peter Lahr as part of a doctoral discretion determined that the skull had shrunk while it was immersed in the bog. Through soaking and detailed measuring, the skull could be discerned to have return to its normal size, then shrink back after a drying process took place.

Microscopic studies showed that the deer skin was that of a roe deer.


Evidence supports a blow to the left temple was the cause of death prior to the decapitation of the individual.

Additional Info

The red of his hair on this individual is a result of the acidic nature of the bog, in life it was likely brown or blond.

External Links

Lewis, S. K. (2006, February 07). Bog Bodies of the Iron Age. Retrieved March 13, 2016, from

Mummified head of Osterby Man, a bog body. (n.d.). Retrieved March 13, 2016, from

Osterby Man. (2009, April 14). Retrieved March 13, 2016, from

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