Grauballe Man's face-lift

After Grauballe Man’s body was artificially tanned in his ‘bog bath’, it was important to treat his skin appropriately to prevent him from shrinking as the moisture left his body. Lange-Korbak was also very concerned with making Grauballe Man look good before he was put on display.

'Precisely like an old boot'

As his skin was now similar to shoe leather, Grauballe Man was treated with Turkish-red oil and then laid out to dry slowly. Lange-Korbak was afraid that the body would lose some of its shape and volume and injected an artificial resin into Grauballe Man’s hands and feet. After he had dried, Grauballe Man was rubbed with leather dressing (a mixture of various oily substances) to prevent his skin from becoming dry and stiff.

A good-looking corpse

It was very important to Lange-Korbak that Grauballe Man should look good before he was put on display. Therefore, he injected more resin into various areas of Grauballe Man’s body and head so muscle tissue recovered its bulk and tone. The cavity where the organs had been was filled with synthetic sponges and cracks in the skin were covered up with small pieces of dyed modelling clay. Lange-Korbak also patched up Gauballe Man’s broken shin with wax so no one could see the broken bone. His nails were cleaned and even his hair was arranged under a hair net. There was not a spot on the body that was left unexamined or cosmetically smoothed out. All these restoration measures did not have a conserving function, they were purely cosmetic.

A life's work

Nowadays, such restorative interventions would probably not have happened, as authenticity is considered more important. We want to display reality, however brutal this may be. Yet Lange-Korbak, who was a sculptor by trade, was moved by professional ambition and a respect for the dead to carry out his cosmetic embellishment of the corpse. As Grauballe Man’s personal guardian and physician he had spent more than two years with the Iron Age man and he saw him as his life’s work. He ensured that Grauballe Man became a ‘good-looking corpse’ before he was put on display to the public in the refurbished galleries of the Prehistoric museum in Aarhus in May 1955.