Category Archives: EUROPE

A cache of 1,500-Year-Old Gold Pendants Found in Norway

A Cache of 1,500-Year-Old Gold Pendants Found in Norway

Science Norway reports that seven gold pendants, or bracteates, estimated to be 1,500 years old have been unearthed in southeastern Norway by archaeologists Jessica Leigh McGraw, Margrete Figenschou Simonsen found in a field and near a small hill at the edge of the field.

A Cache of 1,500-Year-Old Gold Pendants Found in Norway
Gold doesn’t deteriorate, even if it’s spent a thousand years in clay soil. But the gold bracteates can still be quite fragile. The purity of the gold is high, which makes it soft and easy to bend.

If this spot was in fact a place where gold bracteates would have been laid down for sacrifice, it has been disturbed in modern times by farming.

Save for an assembly of gold artefacts which included one bracteate which was found in Møre og Romsdal in 2014, it has been 70 years since similar findings were done in Norway.

“Such votive hoards are incredibly rare”, three archaeologists write in a blog post on forskning.no (link in Norwegian).

Jessica Leigh McGraw, Margrete Figenschou Simonsen and Magne Samdal are all archaeologists working at the UiO Museum of Cultural History, and they have just undertaken an excavation on the site.

An excavator removes the clay soil bit by bit before the archaeologists search the area repeatedly with metal detectors.

A scandie take on roman culture

A total of about 160 bracteates have been found in Norway, whereas in total around 900 such pendants are known. They are considered a Scandinavian phenomenon, and when found in Germany and England are presumed to have been imported to those places.

The inspiration for the pendants, however, is the Roman Empire Medallions.

“In homely tradition, the portrait of the emperor has been replaced by Norse gods and animal figures in Germanic style”, the archaeologists write.

“People in Scandinavia took ownership in a status item from the Roman culture, gave it a Norse look and made it their own.”

Animals, humans, symbols and runes

The name bracteate is derived from the Latin bractea – meaning a thin piece of metal.

The pendants were single-sided, made out of gold, and usually worn as jewellery. They could also be laid down as votive gifts to the Gods, as hoards of gold bracteates suggest.

Bracteates are classified according to what they depict. The seven that were recently found in Råde in Østfold, are of the types C and D.

Type C bracteates depict scenes of a person on the back of a horse-like animal, often in combination with birds, other symbols and runes. The dominating feature, however, is a large human head with prominent hair.

Type D bracteates are different stylistically from the other classifications and are assumed to be the youngest variants, dating from the 6th century AD. They depict various highly stylized animals and can be quite hard to understand and interpret today.

A close up of one of the bracteates.

Pleasing the Gods

The bracteates are from the so-called Migration Period, a time of widespread migrations in Europe that mainly took place between the 4th and 6th century AD.

Norway has rich findings from this period from sites like farms, graves, hillforts and stray finds. Imported items from the Roman Empire, as well as copies of antique status symbols, show that Norway had cultural and economic ties to the continent, the archaeologists write in their blog post.

This is also evident in the gold bracteates.

“There is little doubt that these were items connected to aristocratic communities within a Germanic elite in Scandinavia”, they write.

In the year’s AD 536-540 however, a series of volcanic eruptions lead to thick clouds of ashes that affected the climate. This is referred to as the Fimbul winter in Norse literature. The sun did not shine for more than a year, crops failed, and people starved.

“We don’t know if the gold bracteates from Råde were laid down before or after 536”, the archaeologists write.

“But it appears as though gold offerings become larger and more numerous during the 500s. In a time of bad years and insecurities, people may have felt a heightened need to try and avoid dangers and seek protection. The Gods needed pleasing, and an increased amount of gold offerings may have taken place”.

The screen shows an enlarged image of a 5 mm broad area of one of the gold bracteates. Using a scanning electron microscope such as this allows the archaeologists to study the pendants up close in great detail.

The screen shows an enlarged image of a 5 mm broad area of one of the gold bracteates. Using a scanning electron microscope such as this allows the archaeologists to study the pendants up close in great detail. 

Will be studied in detail

The seven gold bracteates will now be studied in detail at the UiO Museum of Cultural History in Oslo. Some of them are a bit bent and the motifs are partly hidden.

Using advanced technology, the archaeologists hope to be able to say something about how the pendants were made, and perhaps even by whom and where.

They will also compare the newly found bracteates to old findings. This might tell us something about connections between the elites in Scandinavia or Northern Europe.

“Laying down seven gold bracteates must have been a considerable ritual act, reserved for only the most privileged in society”, the archaeologists write.

“Thus, they are also bearers of stories from the time before they were given as offerings”.

Child’s Coffin Discovered at the Real Alcázar of Seville

Child’s Coffin Discovered at the Real Alcázar of Seville

El País reports that the remains of a child were discovered under the floor near the main altar in the chapel at the Real Alcázar of Seville, a royal palace in southern Spain. The burial was found during work to restore the palace’s sixteenth-century ceramic tiles, which were designed by artist Cristobal de Augusta.

Child’s Coffin Discovered at the Real Alcázar of Seville
Two investigators with the remains of a five-year-old girl from the Middle Ages found in the chapel of the Real Alcázar of Seville.

The sarcophagus contained a disintegrating wooden coffin and a complete skeleton – the first to be found in the Real Alcázar – along with pieces of fabric, shoe leather and two mother-of-pearl buttons.

Archaeologist Miguel Ángel Tabales, who is leading the research, is in no doubt that the altar of the chapel was not the little girl’s original burial place.

He also believes she must have belonged to a very powerful family to be buried within the royal palace. His theory is that she was placed to the side of the altar when the chapel was repaved between 1930 and 1940.

“We have not found any documentation to confirm it, but the lead coffin was surrounded by a cist [stone coffin] made from reused bricks held together with cement, materials that tell us it is from the first half of the 20th century,” he says.

“My theory is that the workers found the sarcophagus in another area, opened it and, on seeing it was a corpse, decided to cover it decently and place it near the altar.”

Archaeologist Miguel Ángel Tabales next to the lead sarcophagus found in the chapel of the Real Alcázar of Seville on April 20.

The researchers are in the preliminary stages of examining the coffin and its contents and are still hoping to find a seal in the lead or any mark in the remains of the wood that will offer clues to the identity of the little girl, who was neatly laid out with her hair combed, as can be seen from the pieces of her skull, fractured by the weight of the marble floor.

The theory they are working on is that she lived between the end of the 13th and the end of the 14th centuries. Both the team of archaeologists and the director of the Real Alcázar, Isabel Rodríguez, along with palace warden, Román Fernández-Baca, are convinced that other corpses will emerge. “This is the tip of the iceberg,” says Tabales.

“When we saw the sarcophagus, we immediately thought that there could be more in the basement of the chapel. It could be a crypt that was part of the gothic palace, built by [King] Alfonso X, the Wise, in the second half of the 13th century over the old Almohad palace.”

Fernández-Baca, former director-general of fine arts for the Culture Ministry, believes the next step will be to put the body into context.

“We are going to make a study of the subsoil using a geo-radar to examine what physical elements we may come across and that information will be passed to the Alcázar’s executive committee who will decide how to proceed,” says the warden, who estimates that in three months they will have the results of the carbon-14 test to determine the age of the girl – jokingly dubbed the Berenguela girl (after the marble-like stone) by researcher Enriqueta Vila, who has been to view the discovery along with archaeologist and historian, Pilar León-Castro, both of whom are on the palace’s governing board.

Members of the team of archaeologists in the chapel of the Real Alcázar of Seville where the remains of the corpse have been found.

Anthropologist Juan Manuel Guijo, who is in charge of studying the remains, hopes that the tests will provide information about the girl’s lineage, where she lived, the cause of death and the funeral rites performed at her burial. “She had her arms semi-flexed and crossed over her thorax,” notes Guijo. “And the body had not been tampered with.

We will be able to extract her DNA from the root bulb of her hair [rather than the bones] because when the wood disintegrated, the bones came into contact with the lead, which alters the results of this test.

If we find remains of oils, we will know if she was an important person and also if she had been embalmed, a ritual forbidden by the Catholic Church, but which the wealthy practised in their quest for eternal life.”

It is still not known what the girl died of, although a permanent fully formed molar has helped the anthropologist to calculate she was around five years old and fair hairs on the nape of her neck that she was blonde.

Besides the location, the fact she was buried in a lead sarcophagus – measuring 116 centimetres long and 40 centimetres wide at the head and 30 centimetres at the foot with a depth of 30 centimetres –suggests she was from a wealthy background.

Next to the bones of the little girl, six boxes containing an earthy substance have not yet been examined and may hold further surprises.

Marble Head of Augustus Unearthed in Southern Italy

Marble Head of Augustus Unearthed in Southern Italy

Artnews reports that a marble head of the Roman emperor Augustus (r. 27 B.C.–A.D. 14) was unearthed in southern Italy’s region of Molise by a team of researchers led by archaeologist Francesca Giancola. 

The sculpture, which has lost its body and nose was discovered while renovating Isernia’s historic city walls – built during the imperial Rome period.

It was identified as Augustus, adopted son of Julius Caesar and Rome’s first emperor, by its distinctive facial features and hairstyle. The bust is not rare as dozens of statues, busts and coins of Augustus have been discovered from Roman times.

But researchers say the discovery proves the Romans’ presence in the ancient colony, known at the time as Aesernia, which once held strategic importance as a gateway to the rest of Italy.

The marble head, which is in fairly good condition, was discovered along the Via Occidentale by a construction crew last Thursday. 

A head depicting Roman emperor Augustus was uncovered last week during renovations to Isernia’s historic city walls

No definitive date for the sculpture has been announced but the depiction in line with the Augustus of Primaporta, a well-known marble statue of the emperor dating to 20 BC. 

Archaeologists are confident it is Augustus, due to his iconic ‘swallow-tail hairstyle – thick strands of hair parted in a distinctive V-shape, with protruding ears and broadly spaced locks, isNews reports.

‘Yes, it is really him, the emperor Augustus, found today during the excavation,’ the Archaeological Superintendency of Molise wrote on Facebook. 

Augustus was always presented as clean-shaven and, though he lived to 76, as a man in his late teens or early 20s. 

He ruled Rome from 27 B.C. until his death in 14 A.D, overseeing the expansion of the empire into Egypt and other parts of Africa and establishing both a standing army and the Praetorian Guard.

In 295 BC, Rome wrested control of Isernia away from the Samnites, an ancient Italic people in south-central Italy.

Key to access to the rest of the country, the town briefly fell back into the Samnites’ hands in 90 BC, before reverting to Roman authority a few years later.

Roman forces levelled most of the city and rebuilt it as a Roman outpost, with both Caesar and Augustus trying to establish colonies there. Isernia’s ancient city walls, some of which were constructed under imperial Rome, are in serious need of repair.

The marble head was discovered after part of one wall collapsed, according to ANSA. But suggestions to reinforce them with concrete pillars have been met with criticism.

‘[That] solution was not feasible, not in the least because the piling would have risked destroying the foundation of the walls and any traces of ancient presence in the area,’ superintendent Dora Catalano and archaeologist Maria Diletta Colombo told isNews.

Instead, they’re looking for a less invasive way to strengthen the walls without disturbing their artistic and historical value.

According to isNews, the head will eventually go on display at Isernia’s Museum of Santa Maria Delle Monache.

The neanderthal family found cannibalised in a cave in Spain

The neanderthal family found cannibalised in a cave in Spain

Researchers uncovered the bones of a possible family group of Neanderthals, including an infant, in a cave in Spain. The bones of the 12 people display evidence of cannibalism, suggesting another Neanderthal group came along and chowed down on the meat.

The neanderthal family found cannibalised in a cave in Spain
Archaeologists excavate the cave in El Sidron in Asturias, northern Spain

According to the study, this tribe of Neanderthals died about 49,000 years ago. Shortly after, the cave collapsed due to a powerful storm or another natural catastrophe, burying their bodies at the El Sidron site.

The finding, detailed in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals for the first time genetic evidence of a social kin Neanderthal group. Analyses suggest the group included three adult males, three adult females, three adolescents (possibly all male), two juveniles (one 5 to 6 years old and the other from 8 to 9), and an infant.

“I think this is a pretty significant piece of research, and [it] really adds to the forensic understanding of what happened in that cave,” said John Hawks, an anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who was not involved in the current study, referring to the possibility of cannibalism.

“I don’t see any real reason to question the scenario, but like most cases of archaeological finds, there are always questions as to the fidelity of the evidence,” Hawks told LiveScience in an e-mail. “That being said, my inclination would be to revisit some other Neanderthal sites keeping in mind the relatively strong evidence of cannibalism and systematic ‘warfare’ at El Sidron.

I think there are other pieces that can be put together into a stronger case across many sites — that is I don’t think this was a single incident without parallels elsewhere”

Neanderthal family

The remains have been unearthed over the last 10 years. “They were difficult to isolate because they are highly fragmented, due to the cannibalism,” said lead author Carles Lalueza-Fox, of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, adding, they included: lots of teeth, mandibles, long bones and skull fragments.

The researchers used mitochondrial DNA, which resides in the energy-making structures of cells, to determine who was related to whom. This type of DNA, unlike nuclear DNA, gets passed down from females only. To figure out the sex of the individuals, the team analyzed the remains for a Y chromosome, since only males are equipped with a Y.

Results suggested the child about 8 to 9 years old was the offspring of one of the female adults, while another adult female was the mother of the infant and child about 5 or 6. The three adult males shared mtDNA, suggesting they were brothers or otherwise related through the maternal line.

Past research of the nuclear DNA from remains of the women who bore the 5- or 6-year-old child suggests she was a redhead, Lalueza-Fox said during a telephone interview. Those results were published in a past issue of the journal Science.

Clues to cannibalism

“There are many different markings in many different bones in all 12 individuals, including traditional cut marks to disarticulate bones and remove muscle insertions, snapping and fracturing of long bones to extract the marrow,” Lalueza-Fox told LiveScience.

These marks “could indicate that the assemblage corresponds to a Neandertal group processed by other Neandertals on the surface,” the researchers wrote. (Neandertal is an alternative spelling of Neanderthal.)

He pointed out that cannibalism is not rare among Neanderthals, though the current finding is unique in its scale (12 individuals). “The dating of 49,000 years ago, on the other hand, indicates that the cannibals should be other Neandertals since modern humans were not around at that time in Europe,” he said.

That means the men in the group are kin, while the women came from different kin groups — a phenomenon called patrilocality. “The authors’ hypothesis about patrilocality is consistent with the mtDNA, and I think it is likely to be the correct one,” Hawks writes in his blog. He adds, however, that the interpretation isn’t foolproof.

“For one thing, Neandertals are already known to be relatively low in mtDNA variation, with very little regional population structure in the mtDNA. In such a population, it wouldn’t be surprising to find individuals sharing the same mtDNA haplotype, even if they were not close kin,” Hawks writes.

Shackled Skeletons Unearthed in Greece Could Be Remains of Slaughtered Rebels

Shackled Skeletons Unearthed in Greece Could Be Remains of Slaughtered Rebels

In the Faliron Delta district of southern Athens, two mass graves containing 80 ancient bodies have been found. Young men’s bodies from the 7th century BC were placed side by side, their arms shackled over their heads.

Shackled Skeletons Unearthed in Greece Could Be Remains of Slaughtered Rebels
Skeletal remains, with iron shackles on their wrists, are laid in a row at the ancient Falyron Delta cemetery in Athens, Greece

One skeleton had an arrow stuck in its shoulder, which suggested the young men may have been murdered, prisoners. Researchers believe they may have been captured for being followers of ancient would-be tyrant Cylon of Athens.

The findings, presented by chief archaeologist Stella Chrysoulaki, were made when builders were preparing the ground for the new Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC).

Given ‘the high importance of these discoveries,’ the council is launching further investigations, the culture ministry said.

Two small vases discovered amongst the skeletons have allowed archaeologists to date the graves from between 650-625 BC, a period of great political turmoil in the region,’ the ministry said.

The skeletons were found lined up, some on their backs and others on their stomachs. A total of 36 had their hands bound with iron. One of the men, the last one to be found in March, also had his legs tied with rope.

It remains a mystery as to why the men had their arms tied above their heads rather than behind their backs. Archaeologists found the teeth of the men to be in good condition, indicating they were young and healthy.

This boosts the theory that they could have been followers of Cylon, a nobleman whose failed coup in the 7th century BC is detailed in the accounts of ancient historians Herodotus and Thucydides.

Some of the shackled skeletons found at Phalaeron outside Athens
Two small vases (one pictured in this image) were discovered among the skeletons. They have allowed archaeologists to date the graves from between 650-625 BC, ‘a period of great political turmoil in the region,’ the ministry said.

Cylon, a former Olympic champion, sought to rule Athens as a tyrant.

But Athenians opposed the coup attempt and he and his supporters were forced to seek refuge in the Acropolis, the citadel that is today the Greek capital’s biggest tourist attraction.

The conspirators eventually surrendered after winning guarantees that their lives would be spared.

But Megacles, of the powerful Alcmaeonid clan, had the men massacred – an act condemned as sacrilegious by the city authorities.

Historians say this dramatic chapter in the story of ancient Athens showed the aristocracy’s resistance to the political transformation that would eventually herald Athenian democracy 2,500 years ago.

The skeletons were found in an ancient necropolis at around two and a half meters from the surface.

So far, only half of the Faliron Delta has been excavated so far. 

The site served as a port for Athens in the classical age.

Archaeologists said the excavation will continue, and the culture ministry is set to make a decision on whether to build a museum on the site.

Germany Will Return Benin Bronzes to Nigeria in 2022

Germany Will Return Benin Bronzes to Nigeria in 2022

After museum experts and political leaders reached an agreement on Thursday, Germany expects to return the antique, pillaged artifacts known as the Benin Bronzes to Nigeria next year. During a military expedition to the kingdom in what is now Nigeria in 1897, the majority of the artefacts were looted by British forces.

Germany Will Return Benin Bronzes to Nigeria in 2022
This plaque depicts musicians, a page holding a ceremonial sword and a high-ranking warrior. It numbers among the thousands of works looted by British forces during an 1897 raid of Benin City.

The 16th-18th century metal plaques and sculptures that decorated the royal palace of the Kingdom of Benin are among the most highly regarded works of African art. They are now scattered around European museums. After the decision on Thursday, the next step will be to develop a road map for the return, which should be completed in the next few months.

That will mean inventorying all the items by June 15, followed by a meeting on June 29 to consider the best approach.

The 16th-18th century metal plaques and sculptures that decorated the royal palace of the Kingdom of Benin are among the most highly regarded works of African art.

Germany puts museum cooperation with Africa on the agenda

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called the agreement “a turning point in our approach to colonial history.”

“We have been working intensively for months to create the framework conditions for this,” he said, adding: “We have put the issue of museum cooperation with Africa on the political agenda and sought dialogue with our Nigerian partners, the architect and the initiators of the Benin Museum.”

“From archaeological cooperation to the training of museum managers and assistance with cultural infrastructure, we have put together a package and are continuing to work on it with our Nigerian partners.”

Decolonizing museums

Nanette Snoep, a Dutch anthropologist and curator from the Rautenstrach-Joest-Museum in Cologne, said, “museums and politicians have become aware of the fact that it is really necessary to decolonize museums. And decolonizing also means restitution.”

With this decision, Culture Minister Monika Gruetters said, “We want to contribute to understanding and reconciliation with the descendants of those whose cultural treasures were stolen during colonization.”

The debate over Benin bronzes gains momentum in Germany

Hermann Parzinger of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation said the goal is to return the first items by 2022. He said talks are planned with the group’s Nigerian counterparts to ensure “substantial returns and future cooperation.”

Those would include talks about allowing some of the items to remain on display in German museums. However, Snoep says this decision must be made by the Nigerians.

“Nigerian partners can decide by themselves how this restitution will take place, how this repatriation will take place and, if some of the looted art will remain in German museums, it must be their decision how we will represent the Benin artworks in our museums and also what kind of story we will tell in our German museums,” said Snoep. 

The famous bronzes are to be found in a number of German museums. The Berlin Ethnological Museum holds around 530 artefacts from the kingdom of Benin, including around 440 bronzes.

Some 180 of the bronzes are due to be exhibited this year in Berlin’s Humboldt Forum, a new museum complex that opened in December.

Pressure on former colonial powers to return looted artworks

The restitution debate began many years ago but was largely ignored by Western museums. It was also a taboo topic among anthropologists. According to anthropologist Snoep, a lot of Africans began making the call decades ago. “African intellectuals first started this debate. Now we only hear the voices of Western museum directors and politicians. But the good fight started in Africa,” Snoep said.

The curator adds that she hoped “it doesn’t become a white on white dialogue again.”   

Most European former colonial powers have begun a process in recent years of considering the return of looted artefacts to the former colonies, especially in Africa. Last month, the University of Aberdeen in Scotland agreed to return a Benin Bronze sculpture to Nigeria, saying it was acquired by British soldiers in 1897 in “reprehensible circumstances.”

The famous bronzes are to be found in a number of German museums

That decision raised pressure on other establishments, including the British Museum, to follow suit. The British Museum meanwhile is reportedly considering lending its Bronzes to Nigeria.

In Nigeria’s capital Abuja meanwhile, many people welcomed the announcement, describing it as a historic moment for Nigeria. “I think it is a good development because those artefacts are our history in physical form,” said Okwuchi Jim-Nna. “It shows that Africa in general and Nigeria, in particular, has values and they are beginning to respect the culture of the people,” Steve Farunbi added. 

Jemilah Idomas said it was a “laudable effort” by Germany. “Kudos to the German Government.”

However, a few Nigerians meanwhile believed their country was not ready to host the artefacts. “Bringing such artefacts into the country which have immeasurable value will not serve the purpose,” Samson Orija argued. “We are not ready, yet. I think they should still hold onto it.”

“With the insecurity now, the safety of those artefacts cannot be guaranteed,” said Shegun Daramola. “So, until we are ready they should still hold onto it. When they bring it now maybe another country will steal it. Or it gets missing within the country or gets destroyed.”

Museum to be built in Benin City

Nigeria plans to build a museum in Benin city to house the looted artefacts after they are returned, a €3.4 million scheme in which the British Museum will participate. Late last year, France approved the restitution of 26 items from the Kingdom of Dahomey, located within present-day Benin, which had been pillaged in 1892.

“Restitution is really righting [the wrongs] of your own history. And so that’s why African voices are crucial in this debate, that we do not, as white directors, recolonize a debate about restitution,” said anthropologist Nanette Snoep.  

Egyptian mummy believed to be of a male priest turns out to be a pregnant woman

Egyptian mummy believed to be of a male priest turns out to be a pregnant woman

According to the AFP, X-rays of a 2,000-year-old Egyptian mummy kept at Poland’s National Museum since 1917 showed the remains of a woman with long, curly hair who died between 26 and 30 weeks pregnant.

Marzena Ozarek-Szilke, an anthropologist at the Warsaw Mummy Project, was examining a CT scan of a mummy at the National Museum in the Polish capital when she spotted something peculiar.

“When I looked at the lesser pelvis of our mummy I was interested in what was inside… I thought I saw a tiny foot,” Ozarek-Szilke said.

Egyptian mummy believed to be of a male priest turns out to be a pregnant woman
X-ray images showed a little foot in the belly of the world’s first pregnant Egyptian mummy

She asked her husband, an archaeologist who also worked on the project, to take a look.

“My husband looked at the picture and as a father of three, he said: ‘Well, that’s a foot’. At that moment … the whole picture started to come together,” Ozarek-Szilke told Reuters.

The mummy came to Poland in the 19th century when the nascent University of Warsaw was creating an antiquities collection. For decades, it was thought the mummy belonged to an ancient Egyptian priest named Hor-Dehuti.

However, in discovery revealed in the Journal of Archaeological Science on Thursday, scientists at the Warsaw Mummy Project said the mummy was in fact a woman in her twenties who was between 26 and 28 weeks pregnant.

The cause of death is not clear, but Ozarek-Szilke said the pregnancy may have had something to do with it.

“It is possible that the pregnancy itself contributed to the death of this woman. Now we have modern medicine, women who are between 20 and 30 weeks pregnant and something happens to the pregnancy, they have a chance to be rescued. It used to be impossible,” she said.

The discovery sheds some light on the little-known role of children in ancient Egypt and the religious beliefs of the time, but also raises many questions, according to Wojciech Ejsmond, co-director of the Warsaw Mummy Project.

“What was the status of this child in the Egyptian religion? Did it have a soul, could it go to the afterlife on its own, could it be reborn in the afterlife… if it was not yet born?”

Ejsmond said scientists would study the mummy further to determine the cause of death and establish why the foetus was left in the body.

A man stumbles across a 2,500-year-old Bronze Age treasure trove in Swedish forest – in pictures

A man stumbles across a 2,500-year-old Bronze Age treasure trove in Swedish forest – in pictures

The AFP reports that more than 50 Bronze Age artefacts were discovered in western Sweden by Tomas Karlsson, an orienteering enthusiast. The 2,500-year-old cache of bronze items includes necklaces, chains, needles, and eyelets used to decorate and construct clothing.

Conservator Madelene Skogbert shows a bone ring that is part of the about 50 whole or larger parts of bronze objects that have been found in Alingsas, in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Among the relics, believed to be from the period between 750 and 500 BC, are some “very well preserved necklaces, chains and needles” made out of bronze.

The objects were lying out in the open in front of some boulders out in the forest.

“Presumably animals have dug them out of a crevice between the boulders, where you can assume that they had been lying before,” the government agency said.

Tomas Karlsson, the cartographer who made the discovery when he was out updating a map, at first thought, it was just junk.

“It looked like metal garbage. Is that a lamp lying here, I thought at first,” Karlsson told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

He told the paper he then hunched over and saw a spiral and a necklace.

“But it all looked so new. I thought they were fake,” he continued.

He reported the find to local authorities who sent out a team of archaeologists to examine the site.

“Most of the finds are made up of bronze items that can be associated with women of high status from the Bronze Age,” Johan Ling, professor of archaeology at the University of Gothenburg, said in the statement.

“They have been used to adorn different body parts, such as necklaces, bracelets and ankle bracelets, but there were also large needles and eyelets used to decorate and hold up different pieces of clothing, probably made of wool,” Ling added.