Longest-lasting missing person The Grauballe Man

In the longest-lasting missing person case on Earth, the Grauballe Man died when he was about 30 years-old but was found over 2,300 years later, nearly perfectly preserved. Often called “one of the most spectacular discoveries from Denmark’s prehistory,” this corpse was found in a peat bog with its throat slit from ear-to-ear, a sign of a human sacrifice in that era.

The bog body now known as Grauballe man was found in April 1952, near the village of Grauballe, Denmark. He was discovered by men cutting peat for fuel about three feet below the surface of the ground, and is now housed at the Moesgård Museum of Prehistory in nearby Aarhus. The preservative qualities of the bog water- inhibiting the growth of bacteria, and containing large amounts of organic acids and aldehydes- acts to preserve the soft tissues of a cadaver. Even Grauballe man’s hair and fingernails remain intact, his body a bronze-brown color. An examination by the professor of forensic medicine at Aarhus University at the time of his discovery concluded “This most unusually well preserved body has, as a result of the particular composition of the earth in which it has lain, undergone a process of conservation which appears to resemble most closely a tanning. This has made the skin firm and resistant … and at the same time the bones have been subjected to a decalcification process which has left them soft and capable of being bent and flattened, as has happened, for example with the bones of the head. On the front of the neck was found a large wound streching from ear to ear. It lies high up the throat, and the edges are moderately smooth … probably caused by several cuts inflicted by a second person.” An examination of Grauballe man’s hands and fingers- preserved so perfectly that fingerprints could be taken- showed: “… There is nothing unusual about the fingerprints obtained … The hands of the Grauballe Man showed no sign of hard manual labour..” Radioactive-carbon tests carried out on the body dated Grauballe man at around 55 B.C., making him roughly a contemporary of Julius Caesar.

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