At the beginning of November 2002 two famous Danes were admitted to hospital. The Tollund Man and Elling Woman were "admitted" to the radiotherapy department at Aarhus district general hospital which is located very close to the medico-legal department where some of the examinations took place.
The two bog bodies were scanned using the best CT-scanner in the country - approximately 16,000 pictures were taken. This specific type of autopsy which was done on the bog bodies has the advantage that it is not necessary to use a scalpel and the scientists can take all the time they need to complete the examinations.
Aside from the scannings the Tollund Man was examined with an endoscope - a small flexible instrument with a mini camera at one end. Once again the Tollund Man was thoroughly X-rayed, and for the first time he was examined with infrared and ultraviolet light.
A team of Denmark's best doctors, dentists, forensic examiners, nuclear scientists and scientists participated in the extensive examination. Radiologists, radiographers, engineers, archaeologists and an ear, nose and throat specialist all took part in the examinations of the Tollund Man as well.
The same group of scientists which had previosly examined Grauballe Man were used in examining the Tollund Man and Elling Woman. The team has a great expertise in various fields, especially when it comes to examining the stomach contents and the teeth.
On the day of the examination the scientists jokingly said that the patients' age had made it necessary for them to jump the waiting lists. Even though it was said with a twinkle in the eye, there is still reason to stress that the numerous scientists participated voluntarily and for free on a Saturday when the hospital departments are usually closed - of course with the exception of being open for any emergency patients.
Since that day in November 2002 the numerous scientists have been busy working their way through the results of the examinations and the first important pieces of information have started to appear.
A side effect of the examinations and the methodology is that they will be part of a greater whole and help develop new technological method of examination which might benefit the people of the present.
The principal person is shown great
attention. Big picture
In a way you can say that the past helps us develop new and prospective techniques which again means a faster and more effective treatment of people who are seriously ill.
What has been most surprising is that the internal parts such as the brain, tongue and larynx - infact, every single structure of the Tollund Man's head - are unusually well-preserved, which made it possible for the forensic examiner to state with a smile that Silkeborg Museum had the best head!
Among other things more information about the cause of death for the Tollund Man has become clear. The new pictures clearly show that the Tollund Man wasn't strangled first because then the tongue bone would probably have been damaged and it isn't. Somebody simply tightened a rope around his neck, he was thenhanged from the rope and died because of it, which must have been enough even if he was sacrificed to the gods.
Among the information that is expected is information revealing exactly how old the Tollund Man was when he was hanged. The preliminary examination has raised some doubts about the sex of Elling Woman. Even though most of the scientists are inclined to think that she is a woman, the results of the examination will give us a clear answer. The reason why the question has been raised is the fact that her bones are slightly deformed which makes it necessary to carry out a closer examination of them if they are going to help decide the gender.
There are many pieces to the puzzle which together will provide us with a picture of the living conditions in the iron age and in some areas that picture will have changed once the first examinations have been completed.