Category Archives: DENMARK

In the frugal last meal of a man 2,400 years ago, scientists see signs of human sacrifice

In the frugal last meal of a man 2,400 years ago, scientists see signs of human sacrifice

When the Tollund man was discovered in a bog in Denmark 71 years ago, he was so well preserved that his researchers thought he was the victim of a recent murder.

In the frugal last meal of a man 2,400 years ago, scientists see signs of human sacrifice
The preserved body of the Tollund Man on display at the Silkeborg Museum in Silkeborg, Denmark.

It took archaeologists to reveal that he was thrown into the bog almost 2,400 years ago and was first hanged – a braided animal skin noose was still around his neck. The careful arrangement of body and face – his closed eyes and weak smile – suggested that he may have been killed as a human sacrifice, rather than executed as a criminal.

The suggestion that Tollund’s man was killed as a human sacrifice has now been reinforced by a study of the condemned man’s last frugal meal, made from a detailed investigation of the contents of his digestive tract: a porridge of barley, flax and pale persicaria.

The Tollund Man’s intestine content.

Pale persicaria seeds are the key to this Iron Age murder mystery, said archaeologist Nina Nielsen, head of research at the Danish Museum in Silkeborg and lead author of the study published Tuesday.

The plant grows wild among barley crops, but evidence from Iron Age grain storage shows that it was generally cleaned as a weed during threshing. This suggests that it was part of the “threshing waste” that was deliberately added to the porridge – possibly as part of a ritual meal for those condemned to die by human sacrifice.

“Was it just a regular meal? Or was the trash hype something you only included when people ate a ritual meal? Nielsen said. ” We do not know it. “

The contents of the preserved intestines of the Tollund man were examined soon after its discovery. But the new study refines that initial examination with much improved archaeological techniques and instruments.

The Tollund Man’s large intestine.

“In 1950, they were only looking at the well-preserved kernels and seeds, not the very fine fraction of the material,” Nielsen said. “But now we have better microscopes, better ways of analyzing material and new techniques. So that means we could get more information out of it. “

In addition to revealing the clue of threshing waste added to his last meal, the researchers found that it was probably cooked in a clay pot – pieces of overcooked crust can be seen in the tracks – and that it had also eaten fish. They also found he was suffering from several parasitic infections when he died, including tapeworms – likely from a regular diet of undercooked meat and contaminated water, Nielsen said.

Tollund Man is one of dozens of Iron Age bog bodies around 2,500 to 1,500 years ago that have been discovered across northern Europe. They were mummified in peatlands by the low oxygen levels, low temperatures, and water made acidic by the layers of decaying vegetation, or peat, therein.

A few appear to have been victims of accidents, possibly people who drowned after falling into the water. But most, like the Tollund man, were killed and deliberately placed in the bogs, with their bodies and features carefully arranged. Archaeologists believe they were selected as human sacrifices, possibly to avert impending disaster like famine.

Miranda Aldhouse-Green, professor emeritus of history, archeology and religion at Cardiff University in the UK and author of the book ‘Bog Bodies Uncovered: Solving Europe’s Ancient Mystery’, said the seeds of pale persicaria and other traces of threshing waste in Tollund Man’s latest slurry are further evidence that he was sacrificed.

“It reinforces the idea that he was either humiliated by being given something disgusting and horrible to eat, or it actually reflected the fact that society was in a downward spiral where food was scarce,” she said. declared.

The idea that the victims of human sacrifices had somehow been “ashamed” before death was also reflected in their burials in bogs, instead of the usual burials in graves and dry graves, she said.

The preservative properties of peatlands were well known to people of the Iron Age – many archaeological objects from that era, including pieces of expensive pottery, were also deliberately deposited there – and it may be that the preservation of a bog body was intended to preserve it. to join his ancestors. The bogs were seen as gateways to another kingdom.

“If you put a body in the bog, it wouldn’t decompose – it would stay between the realms of the living and the dead,” Aldhouse-Green said.

There is evidence that threshing waste was added to the last meal of another Iron Age bog body found in Denmark in 1952, that of Grauballe Man, who was also said to have been killed as a human sacrifice. Although more than 100 bog bodies have been found, only 12 are well enough preserved that their last meals can be analyzed, Nielsen said, and she now hopes to seek further evidence of the ritual practice.

The ingredients of the Tollund Man’s last meal, in relative quantities: A) barley seeds, B) pale persicaria, C) barley fragments, D) flax, E) black-bindweed, F) “fat hen” seeds, G) sand, H) hemp-nettles, I) camelina, J) corn spurrey, K) field pansy.

The Man from Tollund now occupies a display case in a special gallery in the Silkeborg Museum, where Nielsen can see him almost every day.

“You are face to face with a person from the past,” she said. “He’s 2,400 years old, it’s really amazing.

DNA Analysis Reunites Viking Relatives 1,000 Years Later

DNA Analysis Reunites Viking Relatives 1,000 Years Later

The AFP reports that DNA analysis has linked the remains of two men who died some 1,000 years ago.

Separated for 1,000 years, two Viking warriors from the same family were reunited on Wednesday at Denmark’s National Museum, as DNA analysis helps shed light on the Vikings’ movements across Europe.

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 two related Viking skeletons in Denmark’s National Museum

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.

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 from 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, or 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.

Viking Burials Surveyed on Danish Island

Viking Burials Surveyed on Danish Island

According to a statement released by Flinders University, a team of researchers from Flinders University and Wessex Archaeology surveyed Kalvestene, a Viking burial site on the Danish island of Hjarnø, and compared their findings with a map made in the seventeenth century by the antiquarian Ole Worm.

As part of the first survey since the National Museum of Denmark discovered and restored 10 tombs on a small island off the eastern coast almost a century ago.

The burial site is made up of monuments which, according to legend, commemorate a king named Hiarni who was crowned after writing a beautiful poem on the death of the old king and who was defeated in battle on the island.

The research, published today in The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology (UICA), shows the design of the famous Kalvestene grave field is unusual when compared to other Danish sites of the same period which typically incorporate circle, oval or triangle stone settings in addition to the ship shaped settings. Instead, there are strong parallels with Southern Swedish sites, raising questions about links between the two regions.

Ole Worm’s 1650 drawings showed more than 20 ship settings at the location, and while data collected by the researchers suggests that there were probably never as many ship settings as that, it is possible that they have identified two new ship settings.

“Our survey identified two new raised areas that could in fact be ship settings that align with Worm’s drawings from 1650. One appears to be a typical ship setting and the second remains ambiguous but it’s impossible to know without excavation and further survey,” says lead author Dr Erin Sebo at Flinders University.

The paper, The Kalvestene: a re-evaluation of the ship settings on the Danish Island of Hjarnø, was co-authored by archaeologists from Flinders University in Australia including Dr Erin Sebo, Chelsea Wiseman, Dr John McCarthy, Dr Katarina Jerbić and Associate Professor Jonathan Benjamin with geophysicist Paul Baggaley from Wessex Archaeology.

“It seems surprising that such a small grave field would be famous and yet the existence of the site was well known in medieval Scandinavia. The island was famous probably because ships would have to sail past to reach a trading centre at Horsens and artefacts from a hoard excavated by Dr Mads Ravn and his team from the Vejle Museum in 2017 suggest the island was visited by foreign traders.”

Viking Burials Surveyed on Danish Island

The ship settings are today interpreted as a religious symbol of the Vikings connection to Norse mythology and the god Njord. His symbol, a ship or Skidbladnir controlled wind and weather so the Vikings paid tribute to him for good sailing conditions.

The researchers analysed medieval records, aerial photogrammetric and LiDAR data collected by the Moesgaard Museum to reveal why Hjarnø is unique in terms of its construction after being adapted to the specific conditions of the small island community.

“An archaeological survey was undertaken in 2018 to record the features of the ship settings and their position in the coastal landscape at Hjarnø,” says Associate Professor Jonathan Benjamin who is the Maritime Archaeology Program Coordinator at Flinders University’s College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

“Each stone was measured and drawn alongside data we acquired through low altitude photography to provide the landscape, in conjunction with sonar surveying in waters near the Viking site, to check for culturally significant material but no indications of this were located during the survey.”

“While this study is unable to offer a conclusive understanding of the origins of the Kalvestene, it demonstrates the value of combining source criticism and analysis with archaeological data to contribute towards greater understanding about the site.”

Archaeologists Discover “Unique” Ceremonial Bronze Age Sword in Denmark

Archaeologists Discover “Unique” Ceremonial Bronze Age Sword in Denmark

In the village of Håre on the Danish island of Funen, archaeologists uncovered a rare Bronze Age ritual sword. The sword dates from Phase IV of the Bronze Age, about 3,000 years ago, making it an incredibly rare discovery. What makes it much more impressive is that it is completely preserved, from bronze blade to wood grip.

Even the plant fibres it was wrapped in are extant.

The site was excavated as part of a year-long project to survey the 37-mile-long route of the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline.

Archaeologists carefully extracting the sword from the excavation site in Håre, Denmark

Odense City Museums archaeologists were on the last leg of their excavations in west Funen when they discovered the remains of an ancient settlement where the sword was ritually deposited 3,000 years ago.

The swords were removed to the Odense City Museums for cleaning and conservation in controlled conditions. Because of the diversity of materials used in its construction, the sword had to be dismantled to see to the different preservation needs of each piece.

The fibre grip winding, which may be bast from linden wood, was unravelled and the wood and horn components separated from the metal of the blade. Samples were taken to identify the materials.

Archaeologists Discover “Unique” Ceremonial Bronze Age Sword in Denmark
The sword was found in excellent preservation, and a delicate process of conservation has taken place.

The sample from the plant fibre will be radiocarbon dated to determine when the sword was made.

The sword weighs almost three pounds (1.3 kilos), a large and very expensive amount of bronze to secure at that time. The grip was cast together with the blade shaft of the sword and covered in wood and antler/bone for a comfortable hold.

The metal was likely imported from Central Europe and then crafted by a local blacksmith. The sample from the bronze alloy of the sword will be tested to identify its exact composition and its source location.

The object includes metal, wood, horn and bast in its construction.

When conservation and study are complete, conservators will reassemble the sword and put it on public display, probably at the Odense Møntergården museum which has permanent exhibits on the ancient history of Funen.

Oldest Viking Crucifix Uncovered In Denmark

Oldest Viking Crucifix Uncovered In Denmark

The tiny gold items, created in the picture of Christ on the cross, are thought to make up Denmark’s oldest crucifix.

This newly Found crucifix will show that Danes adopted the Christian faith earlier than previously thought.

An uncommon Viking crucifix pendant was Found in a Danish field by an amateur metal detectorist two weeks before Easter.

The small gold item, created in the shape of a man with outstretched arms, resembles the Picture of Christ on the cross.

It’s approximated to be Denmark’s oldest crucifix.

Dating back to the first half of the Tenth century, the pendant is evidence of early Christianity in Denmark, according to experts at the Viking Museum situated at Ladby, where the crucifix is currently kept.

It is said by the museum to be older than Harald Bluetooth’s runic stone in Jelling.

The stones in the town of Jelling have a figure on the cross to demonstrate respect to Harald Bluetooth’s conversion of the Danes to Christianity. Up until now, the large rune stones were calculated to date back to 965 AD.

They were thought to be the earliest Images of Jesus on the cross in Denmark.

The precious item was Found by Dennis Fabricius Holm in the fields near a church village of Aunslev, on the Danish island Funen.

It is very lucky that a piece of jewelry this small persevered for the last 1,100 years in the earth.

The figure measures only 1.6 inches in height and weighs about 0.45 ounces.

While the back surface is even, the front is made of finely jointed gold threads and small filigree pellets. Located at the top is a small eye for a chain to be attached.

It is stated by the museum that it looks similar to the gilded silver cross that was Found in 1879 in Birka, close to Stockholm in Sweden. It was in a female’s grave from the Viking Age.

This silver cross dated back to the first half of the Tenth century. Yet the Aunslev cross is the first Danish specimen that is in full figure.

It was most likely worn by a Viking woman. It has not yet been decided if the cross was to display that she was a Christian or if it was just a part of the pagan Vikings’ style.

As indicated by the Swedish archaeologist Martin Rundkvist, who first announced the discovery on his blog, the crucifixes are too much alike for more than 1 or 2 people to have created them.

The first crucifix was Found at Birka close to Stockholm. Yet the second, third, and the fourth one were discovered close to Hedeby, Denmark. This is probably where all of them were produced.

The Aunlev cross will be placed on exhibit at the Viking Museum in Ladby, until the Easter holiday. Then it will be conveyed to a lab for further preservation.

In the summer it will become part of an exhibit in the exhibition that will display several recent Viking Age discoveries that were made using metal detectors.

Jelling stones
A stunning, solid gold crucifix unearthed by a hobbyist with a metal detector may be the oldest Jesus on a cross in Denmark.

120,000-Year-old Neanderthal Artifacts Unearthed in Denmark

120,000-Year-old Neanderthal Artifacts Unearthed in Denmark

Ancient flint tools in the hills of a Danish island gave an indication that 120,000 years ago Neanderthals may have been living there. The first humans in Denmark have been thought to be reindeer hunters from 14,000 years ago.

The slopes of Isefjord’s Ejby Klint between Roskilde and Holbæk were excavated by archaeologists from Denmark’s National Museum and Roskilde Museum. The researchers found ancient mussel shells and flintstones that may have been shaped by humans.

In Denmark Ejby Klint is one of the few places archaeologists can easily locate deposits from the warm time between two ice ages between the ages of 115,000-130,000 years ago.

But more than 100,000 years earlier, Neanderthals lived in Germany, and researchers believe they could have reached modern-day Denmark. 

In a six week dig, archaeologists investigated two slopes at Ejby Klint, finding the tools which are now on display in Denmark’s National Museum. 

The National Museum has found a number of stones (pictured) that appear to have been carved by human hands
Archaeologists from the National Museum and Roskilde Museum are excavating part of Ejby Klint. Even in a small area of ​​only six square meters, they have already found exciting objects

Lasse Sørensen, head of research at the National Museum, says “It’s absolutely wild and very unique that we’ve had the opportunity to dig here at all.”

“I did not think we would find anything at all, but we have actually found some stones that have possible traces of being worked by people, and that in itself is amazing.”

“If we find out that these stones have been worked by Neanderthals, it will resonate all over the world.”

During the warm period between the last two ice ages 115,000 to 130,000 years ago, it was four degrees warmer in Denmark than it is today. 

The country’s large hornbeam forests were home to large prey such as beavers, steppe bison, fallow deer, wood rhinos, forest elephants, Irish giant deer and red deer.

At the National Museum, there is already a flint that has been carved with the same technique as the one used by the Neanderthals. However, the flint was not found in a layer of soil that can be dated accurately.

Excavation leader Ole Kastholm from Roskilde Museum said, “Helping to dig on a steep cliff looking for the oldest people in Denmark right here around Roskilde has been a huge experience. 

“It must be up to the experts to decide how interesting what we have found is. But now the door may have been opened for more excavations to be made for Neanderthals in Denmark.”

A map showing the relative dates at which humans arrived in the different Continents, including Europe 45,000 years ago. Humans and Neanderthals co-existed for about 8,000 years before Neanderthals went extinct.

Viking Grave in Denmark Holds Remains of Mother and Son

Viking Grave in Denmark Holds Remains of Mother and Son

The Copenhagen Post reports that researchers at the Roskilde Museum have analyzed DNA samples from the remains of a man and woman discovered in a 1,000-year-old burial known as the Gerdrup Grave, and determined that the pair were mother and son.

The grave contains the skeletons of a child and a woman, and archaeologists have long speculated who they might be and why they were buried together.

Another element of the mystery is that the child was killed at some point and buried next to the woman. 

The Gerdrup Grave has another important aspect to it: it was the first discovery that proved that Viking women were buried along with a weapon – in this case, a lance.

Familial link

Well, now some new information has surfaced about the longstanding mystery. DNA testing has revealed that the pair are actually mother and son and, as previously believed, a sacrificial slave. 

“It’s an incredibly exciting and surprising result we have here. We need to thoroughly consider what this means,” Ole Kastholm, an archaeologist and senior curator at Roskilde Museum, told TV2 Lorry.

The revelation means that the history of the Gerdrup Grave needs to be rewritten and that a new mystery needs to be solved.

“We need to look at whether other graves and other source material from the Viking Age could reveal some patterns that might help us solve this case,” said Kastholm.

Do Sagas hold the key?

The key to solving the enigma could be found in one of the old Icelandic Sagas, a series of narratives written between the 12th and 15th centuries covering Viking history.

The man in the grave looks to have been executed, hung, and bound before being laid in the grave. Meanwhile, the woman was weighed down with large stones.

One theory is that the lance belonging to the woman in the grave is actually a sorceress’s staff.

Something Odd about them?

One of the sagas tells the story of the sorceress Katla and her son Odd who were persecuted and executed. Odd was hung and Katla was stoned to death.

While the plot thickens and archaeologists work to solve the latest part of the puzzle, the skeletons can be viewed at Roskilde Museum.

Archaeologist Discovered Grauballe man, a preserved bog body from the 3rd century B.C

Archaeologist Discovered Grauballe man, a preserved bog body from the 3rd century B.C

Two years after the discovery of the Tollund man, another bog body was found on the 26 of April 1952, by local peat cutters in the nearby bog, Nebelgard Fen, situated near the town of Grauballe, Denmark.

Longest-lasting missing person The Grauballe Man

Around the time of Grauballe man’s discovery, it was argued that the body belonged to that of Red Christian, a local peat cutter that mysteriously vanished in the area around 1887.

It was trusted that Red fell into the bog after drinking to much alcohol, as it was said that two drunk Englishmen from Cheshire suffered the same fate by falling into Lindow moss in 1853. It was not long before the body was sent to the Prehistory museum at Aarhus for examination and preservation.

Visual examination:

Once the body of Grauballe man was fully revealed, many wondered at how well the body was preserved. A brisk examination of the Body at the site revealed that Grauballe man was naked and had no items or belongings with him.

When Grauballe man was analyzed with more detail at the museum, it was revealed that he was around 30 years of old at the time of his death. It was also revealed that the body of Grauballe man was 1.75 m Height, and still had hair of about 5 cm long as well as a stubble on his chin. Grauballe man’s hands and fingers, when closely inspected, showed no signs of manual labor.

Scientific investigation:

So, we know, based on a VISUAL examination, that Grauballe man was 30 years of age, was 1.75 m Height, still had hair and his hands showed no sign of no physical work.

But how could we know his age? How did we know that his hands showed no sign of labor? The basic answer is that ‘we’ use Science.

When Grauballe man was scientifically inspected, through a wide array of techniques, numerous features where revealed, such as what Grauballe man ate and what wounds he sustained. The scientific examination of Grauballe man has been listed below.

Radiocarbon dating. Used to date the age of the body, which was around 310 B.C – 55 B.C. Placing the Grauballe man in the late Iron age. Scanning Electron microscope. Utilized for a closer examination of the body. Scientists, and Archaeologists worked out that Grauballe man was not a very hard worker by using the microscope to Determine his fingerprints, which were relatively smooth.

It was also used to show what Grauballe man had eaten. Results from an examination inside the stomach uncovered that Grauballe mans last meal consisted of porridge made from corn, seeds from more then 60 different herbs, and grasses which was uncovered to contain traces of a poisonous fungi, known as fungi ergot.

Grauballe man is believed to have died in winter or early spring as there is a lack of FRESH herbs and berries in his stomach.

Forensic analysis. Used to determine the wounds that the body sustained, which consisted of a cut to the throat that extended from ear to ear, cracks to the skull and right tibia, which was believed to be caused by a weapon, however when the body was re-examined again it was in fact caused by the pressure in the bog.

It has also been noted that there were 4 missing lumbar vertebrae. Forensics have also been able to reconstruct the face of Grauballe man, as well as numerous other faces from various bodies.

Templates from the x-rays of the skull were utilized and the skull was sculpted from clay over these templates. CT scanning and Computer Generated imagery was also used to help modify the facial reconstruction.

Cause of death:

There are many speculations associated with Grauballe’s man’s death. The cut on the throat is said to be the cause of Grauballe’s man’s death.

It is believed that Grauballe man was a criminal who paid the cost of death. But how would we know this? Based on the written sources of Tacitus, the Roman historian, the clans of northern Europe had a very strict society. So if one broke the law or committed an offence, they would be put to death.

A criminal or a prisoner of war would fit this description. But, what about his hands? As said before, Grauballe man’s hands showed no sign of manual labor, recommending that he was used for sacrificial purposes. Tacitus mentions that the clans of northern Europe have a connection to mother earth.

He says that during spring she visits these clans and upon departing, a selection of people are sacrificed . Based on the wounds, and the hands of Grauballe man, as well as sources to back it up, this seems to be Grauballe man’s likely cause of death.

But what about the poisonous fungi found in his stomach? New data suggests that if this fungi was to make Grauballe man sick, then it would of more then likely make him incapable to work.

It would have also caused agonizing symptoms which are historically known as St. Anthony’s Fire. Symptoms of this disease include convulsions, hallucinations and burning of the mouth, feet and hands. It is more than likely that Grauballe mans ingested the fungus by natural means.

If there was any bad luck in the village then the Grauballe man would be at the forefront of the allegations, which would regard him as being the cause of these woes and mishaps.

He would be seen as someone corrupted by an evil spirit, and therefore put to death and deposited in a bog far from town. The exact cause of death is however a mystery and therefore there is no single explanations of how Grauballe man died.