Cereals and cooked fish: a frugal meal just before being hanged and thrown in a swamp: it happened 2400 years ago to the one known as the "man of Tollund" (if you don't know who take a look here).
The man from Tollund was around 40 when he died in what is now Denmark. It was probably offered as a human sacrifice. The bog in which he was buried mummified his body in extraordinary detail. Dozens of other Iron Age Europeans were similarly sacrificed and are collectively referred to as "swamp bodies".
The man of Tollund: one of the first archaeological "cold houses"
Danish scientists they analyzed for the first time the intestinal contents of Tollund man shortly after the discovery of his body in 1950. The analysis revealed 20 plant species and one parasite species.
But now Nina Helt Nielsen at Museum Silkeborg in Denmark and his colleagues performed new analyzes on the contents of the large intestine of Tollund man, studying plant fossils, pollen and (for the first time in a swamp body) a full range of non-pollen microfossils. steroids and proteins.
The analysis of his "Last Supper"
The research revealed the presence of proteins and eggs of intestinal worms belonging to whipworms (trichuris), tapeworm (taenia) and worm (ascaris), as well as the partially digested dinner of man. The man from Tollund in his last supper ate some kind of "porridge" consisting of approx 85% of barley, 5% of flax and 9% of seeds of a plant called persicaria pallida. The crust of the food indicated that the porridge was slightly burnt and had been cooked in a clay pot.
The man from Tollund also ate a fish with fat bones, it could have been an eel. He probably caught the parasites by eating undercooked meat and drinking unclean water well before his death.
However, the last meal of the man of Tollund was mostly ordinary for the time. “I'm pretty sure we'd see something similar if we analyzed the intestinal contents of other swamp bodies,” says Nielsen, though the persicaria seeds may have been a special addition as part of a sacrificial ritual. At around 1350 kilocalories, Tollund Man's last meal would provide half of his daily nutritional requirement. It has been preserved in such detail that we could almost reproduce the recipe.