A one-of-a-kind golden neck ring from the Germanic Iron Age (400-550 A.D.) has been discovered in a field not far from Esbjerg on the Jutland Peninsula in mainland Denmark.
The ring weighs in at almost half a kilo (446 grams) and is designed with crescent-like depressions. The decoration is so meticulously detailed that the crescent shapes on the two rings are ever so slightly different: the crescents on the outer ring have eight decorative divots inside them, and the crescents on the inner ones have six. The broadest point of the ring measures 21 centimetres in diameter.
The embellishments on the ring are so rare, which makes it a “masterpiece of almost divine quality,” as termed by the South West Jutland Museum.
That kind of decoration is only known from fewer than a dozen similar rings found in Denmark. And this is by far the most elaborate, most finely worked of them. It is the only one with a soldered plate with intricate gold thread decoration.
The experts noted that the ring was deliberately buried and hidden away and that the inhabitant to whom it belonged did not sacrifice the ring to the gods, which was common practice in that era.
“When sacrificing items at that time, it usually took place in wetlands and bogs and the like. We know a large wetland existed near the discovery site, so if it was sacrificed to the gods, it would have been located out there instead”, Claus Feveile, curator at the Ribe Viking Museum, said in a statement.
The golden neck ring was discovered by metal detectorist Dan Christensen in October 2021. Christensen when he found the neck ring, immediately alerted museum staff.
In the week following the discovery, the entire field was scanned with metal detectors in case the ring had been part of a larger grouping of precious objects scattered by agricultural activity. (Previous examples of neck rings from this period have been found in pairs.) Nothing turned up.
Subsequent full excavation of the find site revealed evidence of a settlement under a thin layer of plow soil, including roof-bearing post holes from multiple three-nave longhouses dating to between 300 and 600 A.D. The neck ring was found inside one of the longhouses.
It was recovered from below the plow layer, so archaeologists believe it was buried where it was found.
Archaeologists don’t think it has been moved since, as the golden neck ring is in mint condition and has maintained its shape.
Initially, the neck ring will be exhibited at Museet Ribes Vikinger up until December 23.
Bone Analysis Offers a Glimpse of 19th-Century Working Mothers
A 19th-century rural Dutch village had unusually low rates of breastfeeding, likely because mothers were busy working, according to a study published April 13, 2022, in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Andrea L. Waters-Rist of the University of Western Ontario and colleagues.
Artificial feeding of infants, as opposed to breastfeeding, is considered a fairly modern practice, much rarer before the advent of commercially available alternatives to breast milk.
However, studies of past populations in Europe have found that breastfeeding practices can vary significantly with a regional cultural variation. In this study, researchers examine a 19th-century dairy farming rural village in the Netherlands to explore factors linked to lower rates of breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding leaves its mark in the bones of infants in the form of altered ratios of stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes. In this study, researchers tested isotopic signatures in the remains of 277 individuals, including nearly 90 infants and children, from Beemster, North-Holland.
They found little to no evidence of breastfeeding, surprising given that this community exhibit features commonly associated with breastfeeding communities of the time, such as a Protestant population of moderate socioeconomic status, and mothers commonly working in or near the home.
Since other evidence indicates that mothers in 19th century Beemster were commonly working as dairy farmers, the researchers suspect that a high workload and a ready supply of cow’s milk as an alternative infant food source were important factors contributing to these low rates of breastfeeding.
At a few urban archaeological sites, mothers who worked long factory shifts have been found to have low rates of breastfeeding, but a similar phenomenon has not been found in a rural population until now.
Future studies on more sites will help elucidate how regional cultural practices impacted rates of breastfeeding over time, and in turn, how these factors have impacted infant health over recent centuries.
The authors add: “Artificial feeding of infants is not just a recent phenomenon.
Female dairy farmers from 19th century Netherlands chose to not breastfeed, or to wean their infants at a young age, because of the availability of fresh cow’s milk and high demands on female labour.”
Researchers stumbled upon a box of human bones that had been missing for 100 years
The long-lost bones of a Viking nobleman have been found in the archives of the Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen, more than 50 years after the remains were mislabeled and vanished into museum storage.
These artefacts came from the burial of a wealthy Viking man in Bjerringhøj, Denmark, dating to around A.D. 970, and they were excavated in 1868. Researchers brought the artefacts and remain to the Museum of Denmark for analysis, but the bones were misplaced sometime during the 20th century.
Archaeologists recently found the missing bones among artefacts and remain from another Danish Viking Age burial site, in Slotsbjergby; the mixup between the two graves likely happened “between the 1950s and 1984,” according to a new study. New analyses of the bones and fabric confirmed that the remains belonged to an older man who was likely rich and important, as he was buried in a very fancy pair of trousers, the study authors reported.
It wasn’t archaeologists who initially discovered the Bjerringhøj burial. Farmers in the village of Mammen unearthed the mound, finding a clay-sealed wooden chamber with a coffin inside; they then opened the chamber and generously “shared” its contents among their friends. Arthur Feddersen, a local schoolmaster with an interest in archaeology, heard about the find and travelled to Mammen, but by the time Feddersen got there, he found only “fragments of textiles, clumps of down feathers and human bones scattered in the soil” at the burial site, according to the study.
“The grave was more or less looted,” said study co-author Ulla Mannering, a research professor of ancient cultures of Denmark and the Mediterranean at the National Museum of Denmark.
Feddersen promptly visited the farmers’ homes to collect and catalogue all the objects; the mound was eventually identified as a high-status Viking burial. The man in the coffin wore garments that were decorated with silk and stitched with gold and silver thread, and he was placed on a layer of down feathers that may have been stuffed inside a mattress. He was also buried with two iron axes, one of which had silver inlay, and there was a beeswax candle attached to his coffin lid.
But after the bones were brought to the museum, their trail — somehow — went cold. During the late 19th century, human remains weren’t considered to be archaeological artefacts, and one possible explanation is that the bones were separated from the rest of the Bjerringhøj objects in the decades after they were discovered, Mannering told Live Science.
“It’s very likely that the bones were put aside, maybe awaiting some decision about how they were going to be recorded at the museum,” and they were never returned to their proper place, Mannering said.
Subsequent efforts to locate the bones met with failure; the remains weren’t found in 1986, during a search of the museum’s collection, nor did they turn up in 2009, in a search of the Anthropological Collection at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Forensic Medicine, “where most of the human remains belonging to the National Museum of Denmark’s prehistoric collections are stored,” the study authors reported.
“It seemed that the bones had been lost forever,” the researchers wrote.
Who wears the pants?
Mannering first glimpsed the wayward remains in 2017 — though she didn’t know it at the time — while reviewing artefacts from another Viking burial site called Slotsbjergby, she told Live Science. Details in the textiles from one box differed dramatically from fabrics in the rest of the Slotsbjergby crates, “but my main focus was not the bones,” and so she didn’t investigate the box’s contents further, Mannering said.
However, when Mannering later embarked on a new project about fashion in the Viking Age, she remembered those textiles and revisited the alleged Slotsbjergby box. Pieces of the fabric in that box were wrapped around the ankle of the person’s leg bones, so the scientists determined that it was part of a cuff for a pair of long trousers. As the individual in the Slotsbjergby burial was a woman and trousers were only worn by Viking men, this strongly suggested that the bones came from a different burial.
The technique that shaped the pants cuff was also highly unusual. Small strips of fabric had been rolled and joined together, and the cuff was further decorated by a band that was woven on a tablet.
“This is a detail that hasn’t been seen before to my knowledge in any Viking Age find in Denmark,” Mannering said.
However, the structure of this peculiar rolled-fabric trouser cuff closely resembled that in a pair of well-preserved sleeve cuffs from the Bjerringhøj burial, whose occupant was male. The scientists verified their hypothesis by comparing the fabric and remains with objects from Bjerringhøj, using computed X-ray tomography (CT) scans and radiocarbon dating to examine the bones; they also analyzed fibres and dyes in the textiles.
“There can be no doubt that these bones are from the Bjerringhøj grave,” Mannering said.
Their analysis showed that the Bjerringhøj man was an adult, around 30 years old or possibly older when he died, and signs of inflammation around his knees may reflect an active lifestyle that included lots of horseback riding, study authors reported. Judging by the elaborateness of his fancy pants, this Viking noble may also have been a bit of a clothes horse.
“The design of the trousers is really exquisite, with silk, and silver and gold threads,” Mannering said. “There are lots of colours and very unusual details attached to his costume — he must have looked really fantastic.”
The findings were published online in the journal Antiquity.
Mysterious Alien Sealand skull found in Olstykke: Remains Of An Extraterrestrial
The Mysterious alien Sealand skull is one of the most controversial skulls ever excavated and has generated fascinating results leading to believe that this could be the ultimate evidence of Alien beings inhabiting Earth in the distant past.
Numerous strange and unanswered things have been discovered on Earth in recent decades. It’s difficult to differ authenticated and reliable objects from hoaxes, but discoveries like Sealand Skull are proof that there are things out there that cannot be explained precisely.
It is believed that a mysterious skull belonged to an Alien that visited Earth hundreds of years ago, others say that it may have belonged to an unknown species that roamed parts of modern-day Denmark in the distant past.
However, few think of it as just another elaborate hoax.
Tests conducted on the skull revealed fascinating results suggesting that the alien-like skull is perhaps one of the few unaccountable skulls ever found on Earth.
Facts about the mysterious Alien Sealand Skull
The enigmatic alien-like skull was discovered in 2007 in Olstykke, Denmark by workers while they were replacing sewer pipes.
Interestingly, only the skull was recovered, the skeletal remains of the body belonging to the skull have never been excavated. It is believed that skeleton of the mystery being was buried at some different location.
The skull was first examined in 2010 at the College of Veterinary Medicine in Denmark prior to 2010 not a single researcher wanted to examine the skull.
Tests conducted in 2010 revealed that the skull is one of the most mysterious craniums ever tested since experts were unable to determine what species it belonged to.
Researchers stated: “Although it resembles a mammal, certain characteristics make it impossible to fit into the Linnaean Taxonomy.”
At first, researchers suggested that the skull may have belonged to a horse, but further tests revealed the enigmatic skull belongs to an unknown species on Earth.
As no one could throw much light on the strange skull, the cranium was later sent to the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen. Carbon dating revealed that this mysterious being lived between 1200 and 1280 BC.
With the hope of finding more about the skull, researchers excavated the area where the skull was found. Among other things, they discovered animal bones, stone axes, and other artefacts that originated in the Neolithic period as per the researchers.
Some researchers proposed a theory that due to the large eye sockets and the smooth surface, it is very likely that this being was adapted to colder weather. The relative eye size indicated that it was a nocturnal creature with giant eyes.
Strangely, the eyes sockets of the Sealand skull seem to extend further to the sides whereas in a human skull eyes are more centred.
The nostril of the Sealand skull is very small, and the chin is very narrow
If the species of this mysterious skull does not fall into the category of a known species on earth, then who does it belong to?
Archaeologists Find Ancient Golden Neck Ring Dating Back To Germanic Iron Age
In a very amusing discovery, an ancient golden neck ring has been found in a field near Esbjerg on the Jutland Peninsula in mainland Denmark.
According to a report published in Sputnik, the archaeologists estimate that it belongs to the Germanic Iron Age 1,400–1,700 years ago and it weighs around half a kilo (446 grams), which is designed with crescent-like depressions. The broadest point of the ring measures 21 centimetres in diameter.
The archaeologists observed that the decoration found on the ring is quite rare, which makes it a “masterpiece of almost divine quality,” as termed by the South West Jutland Museum.
The experts noted that the ring was deliberately buried and hidden away and that the inhabitant to whom it belonged did not sacrifice the ring to the gods, which was common practice in that era.
Ancient golden neck ring ‘of almost divine quality’ found in Denmark
“When sacrificing items at that time, it usually took place in wetlands, bogs, and the like. We know a large wetland existed near the discovery site, so if it was sacrificed to the gods, it would have been located out there instead, “said Claus Feveile, curator at Museet Ribes Vikinger in a statement.
After examining the metal, Feveile noted that the metal had moved from its place for a very long time, as the neck ring is still in excellent condition and its shape or size has not been distorted.
“The gold is so pure and therefore so soft that the ring would not have been able to keep its shape as nicely as it has if it had been moved around with tools.
At the same time, the excavation shows that we have found the very hole in which the neck ring was hidden,” reported Sputnik.
After examining the neck ring, Claus Feveile suggested that the ancient jewellery was hidden by the owner, as they may not have wanted to lose it, or planned to dig it up again sometime later.
However, something unexpected must have happened, and the owner of that masterpiece never came to reclaim it, the archaeologist concluded. The neck ring will be kept for exhibition at the Ribe Viking Museum.
Researchers Date Horned Helmets Discovered in Denmark
Two spectacular bronze helmets decorated with bull-like, curved horns may have inspired the idea that more than 1,500 years later, Vikings wore bulls’ horns on their helmets, although there is no evidence they ever did.
Rather, the two helmets were likely emblems of the growing power of leaders in Bronze Age Scandinavia. In 1942, a worker cutting peat for fuel discovered the helmets — which sport “eyes” and “beaks” — in a bog near the town of Viksø (also spelled Veksø) in eastern Denmark, a few miles northwest of Copenhagen.
The helmets’ design suggested to some archaeologists that the artefacts originated in the Nordic Bronze Age (roughly from 1750 B.C. to 500 B.C.), but until now no firm date had been determined. The researchers of the new study used radiocarbon methods to date a plug of birch tar on one of the horns.
“For many years in popular culture, people associated the Viksø helmets with the Vikings,” said Helle Vandkilde, an archaeologist at Aarhus University in Denmark. “But actually, it’s nonsense. The horned theme is from the Bronze Age and is traceable back to the ancient Near East.”
The new research by Vandkilde and her colleagues confirms that the helmets were deposited in the bog in about 900 B.C. — almost 3,000 years ago and many centuries before the Vikings or Norse dominated the region.
That dates the helmets to the late Nordic Bronze Age, a time when archaeologists think the regular trade of metals and other items had become common throughout Europe and foreign ideas were influencing Indigenous cultures, the researchers wrote in the journal Praehistorische Zeitschrift.
In 1942, a man cutting peat for fuel found broken pieces of the helmets, according to the Danish Ministry of Culture.
When the muddy helmet fragments were first discovered, the man who found them thought they were bits of buried waste, so he set them aside. Later, a foreman noticed the fragments and stored them in a shed for later examination. Later examinations by archaeologists from the National Museum of Denmark showed that the “buried waste” fragments were actually parts of two bronze helmets decorated with curved horns. When excavating the peat pit, researchers also found the remains of a wooden slab that one of the helmets seemed to have stood on, which suggested they had been deliberately deposited in the bog.
But metal can’t be reliably dated, and further research suggested the wooden slab might have been placed in the bog earlier than the helmets. It wasn’t until 2019 that one of Vandkilde’s colleagues spotted the birch tar on one of the horns when she was preparing to take new photographs of the helmets at the National Museum of Denmark.
“She noticed that there was primary organic material in the horns and spoke to a colleague at the National Museum responsible for the collection, and they agreed to send a sample for absolute dating,” Vandkilde said.
Previously, any information about the helmets was based on their typology — the style they were made in and any symbols they were decorated with. But the new date is based on the radioactive decay of the isotope carbon 14, which can determine when the organic matter originated. This method let archaeologists pinpoint when the helmets were created and theorize their purpose, she said.
“Typology is quite often a good first step, chronologically speaking, but it is very important when we can have absolute dates, as we can with carbon 14,” Vandkilde said. “We now know with this new date that the helmets were deposited in the bog, perhaps by someone standing on a wooden platform, around 900 B.C.”
As well as their prominent horns, the Viksø helmets are adorned with symbols meant to look like the eyes and beak of a bird of prey; plumage that has since eroded was likely stuck into the ends of the horns with birch tar, and each helmet also may have had a mane of horsehair.
Both the bulls’ horns and the bird of prey were probably symbols of the sun, as similar iconography from the time has been found in other parts of Europe, such as on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia and in southwest Iberia. “It’s certainly not coincidental — there must have been some sort of connection there,” Vandkilde said.
It’s possible that the symbology of sun worship may have reached Scandinavia along a sea route, from the Mediterranean and along the Atlantic coast, that was used by the seafaring Phoenicians for trade after about 1000 B.C., “independent of the otherwise flourishing transalpine trading route,” the researchers wrote.
There is no sign that the Viksø helmets were ever used for war, which was usually carried out in Bronze Age Scandinavia with only rudimentary helmets or no helmets at all. “They were never used for battle,” Vandkilde said.
Instead, leaders probably wore the helmets as symbols of authority at a time when the region was becoming more politicized and centralized, she said.
“There are many signs of this, and our new dating of the Viksø helmets actually suits this very well — this picture of centralization and the importance of political leadership,” she said. “And those leaders must have used religious beliefs and innovative traits, like the horns, to further their power.”
Last meal of a man mummified in a bog reconstructed after 2400 years
The Tollund Man is one of the most famous ‘bog bodies’ ever discovered in northern Europe. Even though the 30- to 40-year-old human was buried in a bog more than 2,400 years ago, the acidic peat has mummified his body to a remarkable degree, preserving his hair, brain, skin, nails, and intestines – even the leather noose around his neck.
Despite all the evidence, we still don’t really know why he was killed. An updated analysis of the man’s gut has now revealed all the contents of his last meal, and it’s looking more and more like he was some sort of human sacrifice.
Roughly a day before the Tollund Man was hung and buried in the bog, researchers say he ate porridge, containing barley, flax, and seeds from plants and weeds.
That’s similar to what scientists found in the early 1950s when the body was first unearthed in what is now modern Denmark. But unlike past analyses, this one has also noticed a few new ingredients, like the fatty proteins of fish as well as remnants of threshing waste, which comes from separating grain.
That’s an intriguing discovery, as a recent analysis of another bog body, known as the Grauballe Man, has also turned up a surprisingly large quantity of threshing waste not noticed before.
The Grauballe Man was also killed and buried in an acidic bog, and the similar contents of his last meal to the Tollund Man’s last meal may indicate a ritual of sorts.
While other bog bodies appear to have eaten porridge or bread with a side of meat or berries, threshing waste and an abundance of seeds might indicate a special occasion. Either that, or these ingredients were simply added for flavor or nutrition.
“Although the meal may reflect ordinary Iron Age fare, the inclusion of threshing waste could possibly relate to ritual practices,” the authors write.
This isn’t the first time the Tollund Man or the Grauballe Man have been suspected victims of sacrifice.
While other bog bodies found might have fallen dead or drowned in the peat by accident, the way the Tollund Man was killed and then carefully buried, with his eyes and mouth closed shut and his body in a fetal position, has some scientists thinking he was a sacrifice to the gods.
Considering that the Tollund Man was buried near a place where Iron Age people used to dig for peat, it’s possible his body represented a form of gratitude for the land.
Some Roman historian accounts from the time have even written about similar human sacrifices in northwestern Europe, although these were often biased reports that might have stretched the truth about certain tribes.
Apart from the way in which the Tollund Man was buried, his gut is one of the juiciest clues we have. Further research will be needed to determine whether other bog bodies also ate meals containing threshing waste or seeds, or if these were, in fact, special ingredients given to humans before they were sacrificed.
The Tollund Man may be long dead, but his mystery continues to live on.
Neolithic And Bronze Age Burial Mounds With Remains Of Five Children Found In Denmark
It is extremely rare that burial mounds with children’s remains are discovered in Denmark, so it’s a big deal when some are located.
Recently, the remains of five children were found in an excavation in Hedehusene, Denmark. To find five sets of remains in one spot is very thrilling to researchers.
The remains of the children were spread over two separate graves. The first was a collective grave from the late Neolithic period (2400-1700 BCE) and contained the remains of four skeletons of children.
Three out of the four children in this collective grave were aged three to four years old, while the last child was a little older. The second grave was for a single individual and dates from the Bronze Age (1700-500 BCE).
One of the children in the collective grave was buried with a flint dagger as a burial gift, while the child from the single grave was found buried with a bronze ring attached to its head.
Archaeologist Katrine Ipsen Kjær explains the significance of this find, stating, “Right now it seems like it’s a graveyard dedicated to children. It is interesting in itself with a burial site with so far a time span between the individual graves.
It seems as if it was known to be a children’s cemetery. It is a mystery why only children are buried here. However, we cannot rule out that adults may have been buried here. For example, we have found a bronze blade at the top of the burial mound, and this is not a typical funerary gift for children.”
It is a rare phenomenon for archaeologists to find any children buried anywhere before the Stone Age. As Kjær explains, “it is only graves from the late Middle Ages (1300-1400 AD) that it becomes more common to find children’s graves. Where have all the older children’s graves gone? It is actually a big mystery.
We know that infant mortality was high so there should be many child graves As in this case, we archaeologists occasionally find children’s graves but we don’t find as many as there should be. Were children only rarely buried? Did they have other burial rituals for children? Did the little bones just disappear over time?”
The bones of the skeletons found were well preserved. Katrine Ipsen Kjær hopes to find traces of DNA in the bones that could give archaeologists answers about who these children were.
DNA could provide clues as to how the children died. If the four children were buried in the collective grave in a short period of time, that could be an indication of an infectious disease.
It is rare for bones this old to still have traces of DNA, but archaeologists are hopeful to obtain some as they are quite curious to find some answers.