The comparative analysis of two Pre-Roman Iron Age bog bodies from Northwest Germany using portable X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy


  • Guinevere Granite University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Andreas Bauerochse Lower Saxony State Service for Cultural Heritage, Hannover



bog bodies, portable XRF spectroscopy, elemental analysis, diagenesis, post-discovery preservation procedures


Portable X-ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy (PXRFS) is a non-destructive testing method that can offer objective, on-site information concerning elemental composition. The objective was to better understand Northern European bog environmental chemistry and its diagenetic effects on interred bog bodies, and identify post-discovery preservation procedures applied to the remains. This article discusses the findings regarding two of thirteen bog bodies we studied: Husbäke Man and Jührdenerfeld Man.

To assess potential bog diagenetic effects, the following elements were analyzed: Copper, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Lead, and Zirconium. The elemental concentrations were also used to assess the application of post-discovery preservation procedures, along with Cobalt, Antimony, and Titanium.

The significantly higher elemental concentrations in all elements of interest suggest that elemental incorporation occurred in the bog. In addition, the readings taken from Jührdenerfeld Man demonstrate exceedingly high elemental values for Cobalt, supporting post-discovery elemental incorporation.

PXRFS provides valuable information about the interactions between the bog environment and bog body remains, and can identify post-discovery preservative treatment implementation. Thus, PXRFS can improve comprehension of archival collection history of bog bodies, and can offer the possibility of reversing or lessening the effects of detrimental preservative treatments to the bog bodies.


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