The Koelbjerg Man, formerly known as "Koelbjerg Woman", is the oldest known bog body and also the oldest set of human bones found in Denmark,[1][2] dated to the time of the Maglemosian culture about 8000 BC.[3][4] His remains are on display at the Møntergården Museum in Odense, Denmark.[5]



In May 1941, a human skull and some bones were discovered near Koelbjerg on the island of Funen. 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 metres (8 ft), but the majority of the bones were found in a depth of 3 to 3.5 metres (10 to 11 ft), at a distance of 7 to 8 metres (23 to 26 ft) from the other bones. A thigh bone was found a further 2 metres (7 ft) to the southeast.

Study of the remains


The complete skeleton was not found. The anthropological investigation of the bones revealed that the man was 155 to 160 centimetres (5 ft 1 in to 5 ft 3 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 analysis based on samples from the bones indicated a diet of plants and land-based animals, with little or no seafood.[2] A strontium isotope analysis revealed that he likely grew up in Funen, the island where the remains were found.[2]

An early DNA analysis revealed no useful results. The few DNA traces found were probably from contamination by people handling the remains. Later DNA studies based on samples from the molar teeth revealed in 2016 that the person, long considered a woman, was in fact a man.[2][6] The sex had occasionally been questioned earlier because of the relatively robust bones.[6]

The distribution of bones over a large area is understandable if the person drowned in the lake: the soft tissues of the corpse may have decayed while floating in open water, allowing disarticulation of the body. The remaining parts sank and were enclosed by lake silt.

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 about 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 Man may have lived in this settlement.[citation needed]

See also



  1. ^ "Koelbjergkvinden fra Danmark" (in Danish). Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  2. ^ a b c d Museum Odense: Den ældste dansker er en mand. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  3. ^ "Koelbjerg Woman". Bodies of the Bogs. Archeology Magazine. 1997. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  4. ^ "Koelbjerg". og Fund Fortidsminder (in Danish). ed Kulturarvsstyrelsen. Archived from the original on 2012-04-04. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  5. ^ Museum Odense: Fyn - midt i verden. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  6. ^ a b Pedersen, K.L. (2 April 2017). Ny DNA-forskning: Danmarks ældste lig skifter køn fra kvinde til mand. DR Nyheder. Retrieved 3 April 2017.

55°24′13″N 10°07′59″E / 55.40361°N 10.13306°E / 55.40361; 10.13306[1]


  • K. Brøste, K. Fischer-Møller (1943). Geologisk Datering af Koelbjerg-Skelettet (in Danish).
  • J. Troels-Smith (1943). Geologisk Datering af Koelbjerg-Skelettet (in Danish).
  1. ^ "Koelbjergfundet". Archived from the original on 2013-07-09. Retrieved 2011-01-06. "Koelbjerg Fund og fortitsminder". Archived from the original on 2012-04-04. Retrieved 2011-01-06.