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Scientists model ancient bog woman's face

The Local · 21 Jan 2011, 09:57

Published: 21 Jan 2011 09:57 GMT+01:00

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A team of experts presented their findings on Thursday in Hannover, including facial simulations of the bog woman dubbed “Moora.” Archaeologists first began studying the find six years ago, according to news magazine Der Spiegel.

Experts from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) generated a digital model of the bones, which was used to make a replica of the bog woman’s skull. Later, five researchers from Germany and the United Kingdom produced a series of facial reconstructions.

“It’s a look into the face of a young woman who lived at a time when Rome was still just a small village,” said Stefan Winghart, head of the regional heritage conservation office in Lower Saxony.

After examining Moora’s corpse, researchers estimated she was between 17- and 19-years-old at the time of her death. Her life was brief but gruelling: The team determined the young woman suffered from malnutrition, chronic inflammation, curvature of the spine – as well as a benign tumour at the base of her skull. The bones also point to a pair of skull fractures due to blunt trauma.

Experts said Moora probably lived a life of intense physical labour – and likely regularly carried heavy loads, such as water jugs, while roaming through the marshland.

When Moora’s remains were initially uncovered – including vertebrae, hair and pieces of the skull – the body was not treated as an archaeological find. Instead forensics experts in Hamburg identified the corpse as a 16- to 21-year-old woman with poor dental hygiene, Der Spiegel said. Until a DNA test proved otherwise, the corpse was suspected to be the body of the young woman Elke Kerll, who disappeared in 1969 after going to a dance club.

Yet after a human hand was uncovered at the site five years after the initial find, archaeologists began to take a closer look. Radiocarbon dating completed at the University of Kiel confirmed the girl had died between 764 and 515 B.C.

Despite researchers’ efforts to learn more about Moora’s life, the circumstances of her death remain a mystery. The team determined the young woman was naked at the time of her death – and the absence of any clothing or jewellery at the site seems to suggest the young woman did not suffer a fatal accident. But the find also contradicts historical knowledge of common burial practices during the Iron Age, as most bodies were cremated.

Story continues below…

The Local/arp

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:15 January 21, 2011 by catjones
The so-called German researchers got it wrong. The drawings hardly depict a young woman who suffered from malnutrition.
17:12 January 21, 2011 by marimay
LOL you're right.
17:46 January 21, 2011 by chuckfm
I'm confused are the artist concept images of the find? They seem to be two different people. IS one of the 1969 missing girl Elke Kerll? So what are they saying? "site seems to suggest the young woman did not suffer a fatal accident"

I would think that "The bones also point to a pair of skull fractures due to blunt trauma." is not an accident either, but if she didn't accidentally fall in the Moor and she wasn't cremated... than couldn't we speculate that she was murdered?
18:23 January 21, 2011 by teutonic-knight
It is inspiring to see these researchers uncovering the history of the glorious past. God bless them and help them succeed.
18:25 January 21, 2011 by imaginerose
Looks like they just found the oldest rape/murder case known!
18:53 January 21, 2011 by DOZ
"Looks like they just found the oldest rape/murder case known! "

So I guess Historical Female Skeletal remains now found in the Feminist-Age are deemed Rape/Murder.
19:12 January 21, 2011 by EinWolf
@imaginerose ... You're probably correct. It appears that she wasn't buried but dumped after having her skull cracked.
20:25 January 21, 2011 by gwdavy
It would be easy to determine if the skull fracture had healed or not. It could very well be an old injury.
09:46 January 22, 2011 by tommyt09
if she had a husband,would his name be pete?. lol
09:53 January 22, 2011 by Kaaihueh
Jusut maybe they didn't have clothes and she tripped and hit her head, the rest of the klan, starving and cold made a decision to leave her. No I like the murder/rape scenario. Makes for a better story
16:51 January 22, 2011 by derExDeutsche
wait, don't I know her? what Blog is she from?
01:28 January 23, 2011 by teutonic-knight
@ kaaiheih,

What I find odd is that they found a tumor in base of her skull, and she was only 17-19. usually cancer happens in much older people.
16:01 January 25, 2011 by jaycee7
Amazing, when you read this news and place in context with other historical events at the time. Jeroboam II was king of Israel 2800 years ago, at a time when Assyria dominated the Middle-east. It was this same Assyria that forced the Israelites into exile. Also at this time the prophet Jonah lived and some scholars suggest that the book of Jonah in the Bible was written 2400 years ago by an unknown author. Amazing and interesting.
14:46 January 28, 2011 by Gretl
Most bog people in the UK were subjected to two or three "deaths". Her skull fracture would be the first, death by drowning the second. Bog deaths were often punishment for theft or adultery. Some were sacrifices and then you would see a triple "death" of a skull fracture, strangulation, then drowning. It is not unconceivable that Germany/Danish bog practices to be similar to the UK.
05:17 January 29, 2011 by grahovac
Gretl, these bog women have always concerned me, because of what their murders might reveal about humankind. I believe we have to understand the worst to rise above it. You apparently have a thorough understanding of the bog practices. If you could direct me as a mere layman to one or more Internet sites for further study, I would very much appreciate it. Paul Grahovac, USA, grahovac8@gmail.com 785-393-1816 cell.
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