Brutally bludgeoned “Vittrup Man” went from forager to farmer earlier than his demise

reconstructed skull showing fractures

Enlarge / The cranial stays of Vittrup Man, who was bludgeoned to demise and tossed in a peat lavatory between 3300-3100 BCE. (credit score: Stephen Freiheit by way of Fischer A., et al./PLoS ONE)

In 1915, peat diggers recovered the fragmented skeletal stays of a person with a severely fractured cranium in a peat lavatory close to the village of Vittrup in Denmark. The stays had been saved in a museum for the following century, however scientists have now carried out an in-depth evaluation of the stays utilizing quite a lot of strategies to be taught extra about so-called Vittrup Man’s life and violent demise. They described their findings in a current paper revealed within the journal PLoS ONE—together with the stunning undeniable fact that Vittrup Man grew up in a coastal foraging neighborhood alongside the Scandinavian coast earlier than his homicide as an grownup in a farming tradition in Neolithic Denmark.

Vittrup Man is one in every of quite a few “lavatory our bodies” unearthed from peat bogs in northwestern Europe. These are human cadavers which have been naturally preserved, and continuously mummified, by the distinctive chemistry of the bogs. As peat ages it releases humic acid, which has a pH degree just like vinegar. The lavatory our bodies are principally pickled, and decomposition is dramatically slowed due to the anaerobic situations of the lavatory. The very best-preserved lavatory our bodies are those who had been put there through the winter or early spring when the water may be very chilly—lower than 4° Celsius (39° F), i.e., too chilly for micro organism to thrive—as a result of the lavatory acids had been in a position to saturate the tissues earlier than decay might start.

Peat has been a standard gas supply for the reason that Iron Age, and there are data of peat diggers coming throughout lavatory our bodies courting again to 1640 in Germany. Lavatory our bodies grew to become of curiosity to antiquarians within the 19th century and archaeologists within the 20th century. Probably the most well-known examples is Tollund Man, a lavatory physique discovered within the 1950s and courting again to the fifth century BCE. Tollund Man was so exquisitely mummified that he was initially mistaken for a current homicide sufferer, though solely the top was preserved for posterity; the remainder of the physique was allowed to desiccate, given the much less superior state of preservation strategies within the 1950s.

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