The Koelbjerg Woman is the oldest known bog body and also the oldest set of human bones found in Denmark, dated to the time of the Maglemosian culture around 8000 BC. Her remains are held in the Fyns Oldtid museum in Hollufgård in Odense, Denmark.
In May 1941, a human skull and some bones were discovered. On 21 May, the find was reported to the Fyns Stiftsmuseum. The museum staff were able to reconstruct the original position of the bones only because the blocks of peat containing the bones could be matched to the holes where they were removed from the bog. The skull and two bones were found at a depth of 2.5 meters, but the majority of the bones were found in a depth of 3 to 3.5 meters, at a distance of seven to eight meters from the other bones. A thigh bone was found a further two meters to the southeast.
Study of the remains
The complete skeleton of the woman was not found. The anthropological investigation revealed by study of the bones, that the woman was 155 to 160 centimetres (61 to 63 in) tall and 20 to 25 years old. No signs of disease or malnutrition could be identified on the bones and the preservation of the original full set of teeth also had no pathological signs such as tooth decay. An isotope analysis showed that the woman fed mainly on crustaceans, land plants, and marine animals such as fish or shellfish.
A DNA analysis revealed no useful results. The few found DNA traces are probably from contamination by previous editors. The distribution of bone over a larger area is explained by the fact that the woman possibly drowned in the lake, and while the soft parts of the corpse decayed while adrift in open water. It was only after a large part of their soft parts had passed, the remaining bones were enclosed by the silted Lake Lucerne.
In July 1941, a pollen analysis was performed from the inside of the skull. The bog body could be dated to the time of Maglemosian culture around 8000 BC. In October 1943, at the site a bore sample was taken for further investigations. A Carbon 14 test, confirmed in 1983, dated the time of death to the Maglemosian culture.
Approximately 2.5 kilometres (2 mi) southwest, near the Nerverkær-Moor, remains were found of settlements dating back to the Maglemosian culture. Koelbjerg Woman may have lived in this settlement.
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- "Koelbjergfundet". "Koelbjerg Fund og fortitsminder".
- K. Brøste, K. Fischer-Møller (1943). Geologisk Datering af Koelbjerg-Skelettet (in Danish).
- J. Troels-Smith (1943). Geologisk Datering af Koelbjerg-Skelettet (in Danish).