Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries 4-1 (October 2012)Raffaella Bianucci; Don Brothwell; Wijnand van der Sanden; Christina Papageorgopoulou; Paul Gostner; Patrizia Pernter; Eduard Egarter-Vigl; Frank Maixner; Marek Janko; Dario Piombino-Mascali; Grazia Mattutino; Frank Rühlis; Albert Zink: A possible case of dyschondrosteosis in a bog body from the Netherlands
1 Introduction

1.1 Discovery

On December 5 1951, peat cutters working in a bog known locally as Juffersveen (‘Damsel’s Bog’) discovered a corpse (Van der Sanden 1990a, 70). The Mayor of Zweeloo was informed of this remarkable discovery and he contacted the Biologisch-Archaeologisch Instituut (Institute for Biology and Archaeology)[1] of Groningen University. The following day, professor Dr A.E. van Giffen and his assistant W. van Zeist visited the site. They soon discovered that they were too late to make in-situ observations, the peat cutters having already dug up the human remains. No remains of clothing were observed.

All the archaeologists could do was to collect the bones and soft tissues and study the peat section at the site of the find. The human remains were placed in a large zinc box and taken to Groningen. At the time of discovery, little information was recorded on the findspot of the Zweeloo bog body.

In his daily reports, Van Zeist refers to ‘Juffersveen’ and ‘a small peat bog’, but unfortunately without specifying its size and location.

Thanks to the information provided by the then Mayor Greebe, the site of the former bog was located on a map in 1988 (Van der Sanden, 1990a, 70). It lies in an area known as Aalder Veld, northwest of the village of Aalden (municipality of Coevorden). Recently, members of the local historical society were asked about the location of ‘Juffersveen’ and informed one of us (WVDS) that it lay a little further south than the area indicated by Greebe. On a land-consolidation map they sketched a bog measuring around 400 x 200 m extending on either side of Gebbeveenweg.[2]

Their bog coincides reasonably well with an elongated, NW-SE-oriented bog measuring approximately 350 x 125 m which is indicated on a topographic map from around 1900 (Wieberdink, 1900, sheet 224).[3]

If this is indeed ‘Juffersveen’, and considering that Mayor Greebe indicated the findspot as lying immediately west of Gebbeveenweg, it is likely that the body was buried in the central part of the bog.

The findspot of Zweeloo Woman lies within the boundaries of the village territory (Marke) of Aalden, which dates back to at least the Middle Ages, and probably a long time before then. The eastern boundary is formed by the brook valley of the Aelder Stroom. The Roman-period settlement in which the woman may have lived has not yet been found; it is most likely still hidden beneath the plaggen soil of ‘Aalder Esch’ south of Aalden, where an early medieval cemetery has been excavated. The distance between the bog in which Zweeloo Woman was discovered and her (assumed) settlement is about 2.5-3 km.