This is what’s left of a man in his early twenties who lived in Ireland sometime between 362 and 175 B.C. He’s just a partial torso and arms, and from the span of the arms they know that he stood about 6 feet 6 inches: exceptionally tall for that time. (I’ll say. That’s exceptionally tall for today.)
He’s known as Old Croghan Man, and he was found in 2003 near Croghan Hill, north of Daingean in Ireland’s County Offaly. Like all bog bodies, his real identity is unknown, but researchers have posited that he was a man of high status. His hands were well manicured, his last meal was wheat and buttermilk (possibly a ritual meal), and in the months leading up to his death he ate lots of meat. He wore a braided leather band and copper amulet around one bicep.
Despite the comfortable life suggested by nice nails and meaty diet, Old Croghan Man did not die a nice death. From Archaeology:
He had a defensive wound on his upper left arm where he may have tried to protect himself, and had been bound by a hazel branches (withies) threaded through holes in his upper arms, stabbed in the chest, struck in the neck, decapitated, and cut in half.
I recently watched an episode of Nova from 2006 (The Perfect Corpse), which featured Old Croghan Man and Clonycavan Man, a bog body from around the same time period who was found near Dublin, also in 2003.
Eamonn P. Kelly of the National Museum of Ireland (where the bodies now reside) has some interesting theories about a number of Irish bog bodies, including these two. From Archaeology:
Examining the details of both men’s lives and deaths has led Kelly to suggest a new way of looking at the meaning of eight well-preserved Irish bog bodies. “I believe these men were failed kings or failed candidates for kingship who were killed and placed in bogs that formed important tribal boundaries.” Both Clonycavan and Old Croghan men’s nipples were pinched and cut. “Sucking a king’s nipples was a gesture of submission in ancient Ireland,” says Kelly. “Cutting them would have made him incapable of kingship.”
Image source: Photograph by Mark Healy, via Wikipedia.