Category Archives: DENMARK

5,000-year-old ‘bog body’ found in Denmark may be a human sacrifice victim

5,000-year-old ‘bog body’ found in Denmark may be a human sacrifice victim

5,000-year-old 'bog body' found in Denmark may be a human sacrifice victim
The archaeologists first found the bones from a human leg, and then a pelvis and a lower jaw with some teeth still attached.

Archaeologists have discovered the ancient skeletal remains of a so-called bog body in Denmark near the remnants of a flint ax and animal bones, clues that suggest this person was ritually sacrificed more than 5,000 years ago. 

Little is known so far about the supposed victim, including the person’s sex and age at the time of death. But the researchers think the body was deliberately placed in the bog during the Neolithic, or New Stone Age.

“That’s the early phase of the Danish Neolithic,” said excavation leader Emil Struve, an archaeologist and curator at the ROMU museums in Roskilde. “We know that traditions of human sacrifices date back that far — we have other examples of it.”

Dozens of so-called bog bodies have been found throughout northwestern Europe — particularly in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Britain, where human sacrifices in bogs seem to have persisted for several thousand years.

“In our area here, we have several different bog bodies,” Struve told Live Science. “It’s an ongoing tradition that goes back all the way to the Neolithic.”

The archaeologists hope that wear on the teeth could indicate the person’s age when they died, and that the teeth themselves may contain ancient DNA.

Ancient bones

The ROMU archaeological team found the latest set of bones in October ahead of the construction of a housing development. The site, which has now been drained, had been a bog near the town of Stenløse, on the large island of Zealand and just northwest of the Danish capital Copenhagen. Danish law requires archaeologists to examine all land that’s to be built on, and the first bones of the Stenløse bog body were found during a test excavation at the site, Struve said. 

The site near Stenløse was originally a bog, but it’s been drained for use as farmland. A housing development is due to be built there next year.

The archaeologists will now fully excavate the site in the spring, when the ground has thawed after winter. But the initial excavations have revealed leg bones, a pelvis and part of a lower jaw with some teeth still attached. The other parts of the body lay outside a protective layer of peat in the bog and were not preserved, he noted.

Several animal bones found near the human remains indicate this was an area of the bog used for rituals.

Struve hopes that the sex of the body can be determined based on the pelvis and that wear on the teeth may indicate the individual’s age. In addition, the teeth could be sources of ancient DNA, which might reveal even more about the person’s identity, he said.

Archaeologists from the ROMU museums supervised the digger making the initial test trench at the site near Stenløse.

Bog bodies

Struve said the flint ax-head found near the body was not polished after it was made and may have never been used, and so it seems likely that this, too, was a deliberate offering.

A flint axe head found next to the human remains seems never to have been used; its in a style that dates to about 3600 B.C.

The oldest bog body in the world, known as Koelbjerg Man, was found in Denmark in the 1940s and may date to 10,000 years ago, while others date to the Iron Age in the region from about 2,500 years ago. One of the most famous and best-preserved bog bodies is Tollund Man, who was found on Denmark’s Jutland Peninsula in 1950 and is thought to have been sacrificed in about 400 B.C.

A few of the bog bodies seem to have been accident victims who drowned after they fell in the water, but archaeologists think most were killed deliberately, perhaps as human sacrifices at times of famines or other disasters.

Miranda Aldhouse-Green, a professor emeritus of history, archaeology and religion at Cardiff University in the U.K. and the author of the book “Bog Bodies Uncovered: Solving Europe’s Ancient Mystery” (Thames & Hudson, 2015), said ancient people were likely well aware that bogs could preserve bodies.

“If you put a body in the bog, it would not decay — it would stay between the worlds of the living and the dead,” she told NBC News.

High-status Danish Vikings wore exotic beaver furs

High-status Danish Vikings wore exotic beaver furs

Beaver fur was a symbol of wealth and an important trade item in 10th Century Denmark, according to a study published July 27, 2022, in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Luise Ørsted Brandt of the University of Copenhagen and colleagues.

Written sources indicate that fur was a key commodity during the Viking Age, between 800-1050 CE, but fur doesn’t often survive well in the archaeological record, so little direct evidence is available.

Previous reports have used the microscopic anatomy of ancient fur to identify species of origin, but this method is often inexact. All in all, not much is known about the kinds of furs the Vikings preferred.

Map of studied sites (a) and examples of included fur: b) Hvilehøj C4273-97, fragment 1, c) Hvilehøj C4280c, d) Bjerringhøj C143. Graphics: Luise Ørsted Brandt and Charlotte Rimstad.

In this study, Brandt and colleagues analyzed animal remains from six high-status graves from 10th Century Denmark. 

While no ancient DNA was recovered from the samples, perhaps due to treatment processes performed on furs and skins and probably due to preservation conditions, identifiable proteins were recovered by two different analytical techniques. 

Grave furnishings and accessories included skins from domestic animals, while clothing exhibited furs from wild animals, specifically a weasel, a squirrel, and beavers.

These findings support the idea that fur was a symbol of wealth during the Viking Age.

The fact that beavers are not native to Denmark suggests this fur was a luxury item acquired through trade.

Some clothing items included fur from multiple species, demonstrating a knowledge of the varying functions of different animal hides, and may have indicated a desire to show off exclusive furs.

The authors note the biggest limiting factor in this sort of study is the incompleteness of comparative protein databases; as these databases expand, more specific identifications of ancient animal skins and furs will be possible.

The authors add: “In the Viking Age, wearing exotic fur was almost certainly an obvious visual statement of affluence and social status, similar to high-end fashion in today’s world.

This study uses ancient proteins preserved in elite Danish Viking burials to provide direct evidence of beaver fur trade and use.”

DNA analysis reunites Viking relatives in Denmark after 1,000 years

DNA analysis reunites Viking relatives in Denmark after 1,000 years

The 150 bones have been lent to the Danish museum by the Oxfordshire Museum in Britain for three years. Separated for 1,000 years, two Viking warriors from the same family were reunited last week at Denmark’s National Museum, as DNA analysis helps shed light on the Vikings’ movements across Europe.

DNA analysis reunites Viking relatives in Denmark after 1,000 years
Two skeletons of relatives lie in a showcase at the National Museum of Denmark, after one of them was found in a mass grave in Oxford, Britain, and will be reunited in the exhibition ‘Join the Vikings – the raid’ later this month, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

One of the Vikings died in England in his 20s in the 11th century, from injuries to the head. He was buried in a mass grave in Oxford. The other died in Denmark in his 50s, his skeleton bearing traces of blows that suggest he took part in battles.

DNA mapping of skeletons from the Viking era — from the eighth to the 12th century — enabled archaeologists to determine by chance that the two were related.

“This is a big discovery because now you can trace movements across space and time through a family,” museum archaeologist Jeanette Varberg told AFP.

Two of her colleagues spent more than two hours on Wednesday piecing together the skeleton of the man in his 20s, from the remains freshly arrived from Oxford.

Employees from the National Museum of Denmark unpack the skeleton of a man found in a mass grave in Oxford, England, in Copenhagen.

The 150 bones have been lent to the Danish museum by the Oxfordshire Museum in Britain for three years.

The historical consensus is that Danish Vikings invaded Scotland and England in the late eighth century.

The younger of the two men “may have been cut down in a Viking raid, but there is also a theory that they (the skeletons in the mass grave) were victims of a royal decree by English King Ethelred the Second, who commanded in 1002 that all Danes in England should be killed,” Varberg said.

It is very rare to find skeletons that are related, though it is easier to determine the relationships for royals, according to Varberg.

While the two were confirmed to be relatives, it is impossible to determine their exact link. They may have been half-brothers, a grandfather and grandson, or an uncle and nephew.

“It’s very difficult to tell if they lived in the same age or they differ maybe by a generation because you have no material in the grave that can give a precise dating. So you have a margin of 50 years plus or minus,” Varberg said.

Ancient golden neck ring found in Denmark

Ancient golden neck ring found in Denmark

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.

Ancient golden neck ring found in 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

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.

Bone Analysis Offers a Glimpse of 19th-Century Working Mothers
(Frederick Bloemaert (printmaker), Abraham Bloemaert (designer), Nicolaes Visscher (publisher)/Rijks Museum

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

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.

Researchers stumbled upon a box of human bones that had been missing for 100 years
The human remains, with detail of a fabric roll around the ankle.

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.

Researchers Charlotte Rimstad (left) and Ulla Mannering (right) with some of the textiles they studied.

“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.

Reconstruction of the burial chamber in Bjerringhøj.

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

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.

Mysterious Alien Sealand skull found in Olstykke: Remains Of An Extraterrestrial

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

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 front view of the gold neck ring is found in Esbjerg, Denmark.
Detail of the crescent-shaped embossing and plaited gold wire frieze.

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.

Detail of the crescent-shaped embossing and plaited gold wire frieze.

At the same time, the excavation shows that we have found the very hole in which the neck ring was hidden,” reported Sputnik.


Archaeologists’ observations

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.