Archaeology Magazine Archive

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Red Franz (Robert Clark)

When he was found in a bog on Bourtanger Moor, near Neu Versen, Germany, in 1900, the young man was quickly named “Red Franz” for the color of his hair, beard, and eyebrows—an effect of acids in the peat. After he was moved to a local museum, scientists examined Franz and discovered “rider’s facets” on his thigh bones, protrusions caused by increased use of the muscles and connective tissues in the hip, which can occur from constant horseback riding. They also found that he had a long-healed injury to his upper arm, possibly caused by an arrowhead, and a broken (and healed) collarbone, both of which he survived for a long time before his execution. Museum curators only detected the actual cause of Franz’s death, when, after decades of being displayed on his back, they turned him over onto his abdomen and saw evidence of a deep gash in his throat, still visible in the remaining soft tissue of the back of his neck and shoulders.


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