“Tollund Man” was discovered in 1950 in Jutland, Denmark.
The corpse was famously so well preserved that the peat cutters who found it initially thought they had stumbled onto a recent murder victim.
However, analysis of the body soon indicated that whoever killed him was far beyond the reach of any justice.
Tollund Man died sometime between 405 BCE and 380 BCE, aged 30 to 40, probably by strangulation.
His body was laid in its grave in a foetal position, naked except for a belt and a cap, and a rope tied around his neck.
Even a layer of stubble remains visible on the body’s chin.
Bog bodies dating from the Iron Age in northern Europe are often thought to have been the result of human sacrifice, or else slain as captives or criminals, due to their lack of clothing and atypical body placement.
But Tollund Man’s status as a human sacrifice is also built on the presence of food in his stomach, indicating a ritual last meal.
In the 1950s, analysis concluded that the man, before his death, had eaten a meal of barley porridge.
The authors found Tollund Man also consumed a fatty fish, such as an eel, at the same point before his death – not believed to be a regular dietary element at that time and place.
He also suffered from parasites, with eggs and even a tapeworm found in his stomach.
Nonetheless, the authors said the meal was far from a poor one.
“With the addition of an unknown amount of animal fat/fatty fish, the meal probably differed little from the present-day recommended intake of 10–20 per cent protein, 55–60 per cent carbohydrates and 25–30 per cent lipids,” the study stated.
“Thus, Tollund Man’s final meal shows no evidence of a severe food shortage.”