Grauballe Man’s 50th Anniversary

50 years after his discovery, a group of people was once again crowded around Grauballe Man. They were an interdisciplinary group of scientists, including radiologists, forensic scientists, dentists, archaeologists, conservators, archaeobotanists and specialists in 3D visualisation. They set out to re-investigate the Iron Age Man once more.

Mummy science

It was felt the time was right for an evaluation of Grauballe Man’s state of preservation and to secure him for the future. It was decided to examine the body inside and out again, using the newest techniques and methods to see if any new information about his life could be gained. Science had advanced with quantum leaps in the last 50 years and multidisciplinary mummy research had come into focus in the 1990s through the discovery of the well-preserved Stone Age man Ötzi, found high up in the Italian Alps.

Modern examinations

A team of 26 specialists from Denmark and abroad was quickly assembled and Grauballe Man was subject to a wide range of examinations in various of Aarhus University hospital’s departments and elsewhere. His skin, bones, muscles, teeth, gut contents, hair, intestines and various injuries were all (re-)examined and provided a lot of new information about his life and death. The marks of previous investigations in the 50ies, and the extent of restoration efforts by Lange-Korbak, also became clear. Finally, a facial reconstruction was made of Grauballe Man on the basis of a 3D model of his skull and the expert modelling skills of Dr. Caroline Wilkins. This meant that, for the first time, visitors could see what Grauballe Man may have looked like when he was still alive.

Below you can read about what the various investigations that took place around Grauballe Man’s 50th anniversary have told us about his life and death.