Year 1952, a body was revealed in a peat bog, in the town of Windeby close to Schleswig, Germany. The owners of the local estate settled on cutting peat in order to sell for fuel. Through the cutting of the peat a body was discovered. Workers were forced to stop cutting into the peat as the preserved corpse had been damaged to a great extent, where one leg, a foot and a hand were detached from the body. Nothing in terms of tools or large objects were found with the remains but on the body was found a woollen band covering the eyes and a collar around the neck. From these archaeological pieces of evidence, many theories arose of why, how and when did the being die? This was the first body found in Windeby, known as; ‘Windeby Girl’.
Location of Discovery
Though damaged at discovery, researchers state that the body was well preserved in the time of over 2000 years lying in the bogs. The environment that the body was found was just perfect for the preservation of the body as it did not let in any oxygen keeping it from drastic effects and changes overtime. High acidity levels prevented the increase of micro-organisms used to break down body tissue thus leaving the body intact for many years. Quite astonishing though to researchers was how the body lay undisturbed by humans and natural factors
Theories of Death
By the state in which the body of Windeby Girl was found, the manner of death most likely could have been homicide. As in those days they were thought to have lived in a spiritual sense, there are theories that suggest the cause of death by sacrificial or judgmental reasons. Having committed adultery always has been a crime and in the case of Windeby Girl, she may have been caught and sentenced to death as punishment. Evidence also supports the theory of sacrificial practice with the body being given as a sacrifice to the gods, and with the blindfold found over her eyes, no clothing and signs of no struggle on the body it also illustrates that Windeby Girl may have been a willing sacrifice. On the other hand, the body was slim indicating that the victim could have suffered from malnourishment or illness causing the decision for her sacrifice in order not to tear the rest of the population down by spreading whatever sicknesses the body carried.
Archaeology and Science
Forensic science and the use of modern technology have had a huge impact on the archaeology and continuous preservation of bog bodies. In the past scientists and archaeologist could not determine whether a body found in the bogs was thousands of years or a couple of months old. Now with the use of these new found technological advances the age and state of Windeby Girl could be determined before her death, how long they were killed before being buried and many other details. The main archaeological and scientific technique used on Windeby Girl was the reconstruction of the face and time of death. The use of the Carbon dating method (C14) gave the time of death being dated between 41 and 118 AD. A discovery now known as the most important scientific discovery in just the recent years was that Windeby Girl was in fact an approximately 16 year old boy! This was proven by DNA testing, renaming the body as Windeby 1.
As research states that Windeby 1 was a boy who was malnourished, we can guess that the life he lived was not high class and filled with wealth. He may have been a working class who could not afford food and or medicine to keep up his health. It could even be that he lived on land that did not have flourishing harvest, making him sick and unable to live any longer.
Has the Death been Proven?
Though all the theories surrounding the death of Windeby 1 are accurate to the times, there is nothing in fact to prove which one could be the actual cause of death. With the most accurate theories being death by punishment, sacrifice or mere sickness, research is still being done in order to get closer to the truth.
Archaeologist’s best guesses of the real to life look of Windeby Girl when alive. This is reconstruction of when ‘he’ was thought to be a girl.