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6 April 2006
Secrets of 'swamp girl' revealed in Germany

German scientists said a girl whose 2650-year-old skeleton was found in a swamp in the east of the country had lived a short life marked by famine. 'Moora', as the skeleton has been dubbed, was only about 15 when she died, forensic scientists at the Hamburg-Eppendorf university clinic said, as they unveiled the results of months of research on the skeleton. Studies of her teeth and bones showed that she was malnourished up to the age of 11, suggesting that there had been food shortages in the region where she lived.
     'Moora' was found in a marshland in Germany's eastern Lower Saxony state in 2000. Archaeologists were surprised to discover a skeleton in a swamp, as the custom at the time when she lived was rather to cremate the dead. "We still cannot say what happened to her, whether there was an accident or whether she was killed to punish her or perhaps as a sacrifice," said Klaus Pueschel, the head of the forensic science department at the university. He said his team hoped to reconstruct the teenager's skull, face and body with the help of computer tomography but that this would take some time.
     Police in 2000 initially found a part of the skeleton, and suspecting a crime, took it to the Hamburg-Eppendorf clinic. In January 2005, the bones of a hand were found in the same place, sparking the interest of archaeologists who helped to unravel the mystery.

Sources: AFP, Iol.co.za, Sapa (5 April 2006)

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