I’ve always been intrigued by centuries-old mummies, bodies that have been preserved either naturally or artificially. The above image is the Tollund Man, one of a number of bodies found in bogs, where the acidity prevents the growth of bacteria, thus halting decay. Carbon dating puts his death at 400-300 B.C.. Imagine that. He walked the earth over 2,000 years ago, and yet he looks like he might just be sleeping. We can read about people living in those times, or look at paintings or sculptures, but there’s still that gulf of thousands of years that make it hard for our conceptions of those people to be anything beyond academic. Yet when we see this face, the reality of that time period becomes something much more accessible. We don’t know much about the time in which he lived, or the circumstances of his death, but we still feel an unmistakable connection with him as a human being. That face could belong to a friend, a neighbor, a relative. We can imagine that man having a name, a life, imagine him experiencing joy and sorrow and pain and love. He is us, in a way that a person on a page isn’t.
If you’d like to learn more about the Tollund Man, there’s a fantastic website HERE.