121-year-old chocolate bar found in helmet case

May 11th, 2021

A 121-year-old chocolate bar still in its original wrapper and tin has been discovered in a helmet case in the attic of Oxburgh Hall, family seat of the Bedingfield baronets. The chocolate and helmet belonged to Sir Henry Edward Paston-Bedingfield, 8th Baronet, who  was a major in the King’s Liverpool Regiment and fought in the Second Boer War. He was still in South Africa in 1902 when his father died. He returned to Oxburgh to claim his ancestral home and title. The chocolate went with him.

These chocolate bars were a New Year’s present from Queen Victoria to British troops in South Africa ringing in the turn of the century. More than 100,000 half-pound tins of chocolate bearing her embossed profile and New Year’s wishes in her own handwriting were produced by Britain’s top three chocolate companies, Fry, Cadbury and Rowntree. It was an awkward commission because all three companies were founded and run by devout Quakers who specifically sought out an “innocent trade” that would allow them to make a good living without having to compromise their pacifist principles. Victoria wouldn’t let them decline to profit from selling chocolates for troops fighting in an active war zone, so all three companies were strong-armed into it.

They managed to keep their brands off the tin, but even on that matter the Queen was less than flexible, insisting their names be somewhere on the chocolate or wrappers so the troops would know she was sending them the best British chocolate. The bars/wrappers weren’t all marked, however, and the Oxburgh bar has no surviving brand.

The gesture was popular, and soldiers kept the tins as keepsakes. They do crop up for sale every once in a while, empty tins, mostly, although the chocolate does survive rarely. (Not in any kind of condition to even contemplate ingesting it, of course.) Henry’s bar is an especially rare survival because it is directly connected to the person who received in South Africa in 1900.

The chocolate was discovered when staff and the family of Sir Henry’s daughter, Frances Greathead, began cataloguing items following her death in 2020 at the age of 100. Frances, along with her mother Sybil and cousin Violet, were instrumental in saving Oxburgh Hall from being sold at auction in 1951. After selling their houses to raise the necessary funds, all three women moved back to live at Oxburgh before donating it to the National Trust. Frances moved to South Africa in 1956, but still returned to her apartment at Oxburgh every summer.


113 pre-Columbian burials found in Guadeloupe

May 10th, 2021

More than 100 pre-Columbian burials have been unearthed in the Les Abymes township of Guadeloupe. The discovery of so dense a concentration of pre-contact graves is without precedent in Guadeloupe. Agriculture and industry, primarily sugar cane production, in the colonial period damaged many of Guadeloupe’s pre-European archaeological layers, and most of what is known and recorded today is rock art and potsherds. Habitation sites are rare and human bone remains even rarer because of the high acidity of the volcanic soil.

A team from France’s National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) excavated the site of a future housing development and found filled pits and post holes, evidence of habitation from the later part of the Troumassoid Period (650 -1600 A.D.), between the 11th and 13th centuries. Several hundred post holes correspond to the numerous dwellings and there are about 50 pits that were used for domestic purposes. The fill in the pits contains pottery fragments, stone tools, heating rocks, animal bones and the remains of shellfish.

The burials were associated with this settlement. Skeletal remains of adults and children were found in a variety of positions: on their backs, semi-seated, seated and on their sides. The bodies were inhumed folded over on themselves. The arms were flexed over the abdomen, the legs pressed against the forearms, elbows or chest. The fact that the bones are still in these postures means the bodies were tied or placed in bags to ensure they stayed in place.

The habitations and burials form a unique database of information about ancient Guadeloupian communities. The remains will be radiocarbon dated and if possible DNA extracted. The condition of the bones in past finds made genetic analysis impossible, but the sheer quantity of burials here give archaeologists reason to hope that they might be able to figure out any familial relationships among the deceased. The pits and post holes will be analyzed to determine phases of occupation and construction, the layout and usage of the settlement. Researchers also hope to pinpoint whether the burials were contemporaneous with the occupation of the settlement or if they came later after the dwellings were abandoned.

This research will help advance knowledge about the Late Neoindian period. This period is characterized by economic and cultural changes that took place around the 9th century throughout the Lesser Antilles archipelago, resulting from a process of regionalization of cultures, linked to the dispersion of groups throughout the Caribbean archipelago. Paleoclimatic changes identified in the Lesser Antilles doubtless also contribute to the cultural changes.


Hyenas gnawed on Neanderthals in cave south of Rome

May 9th, 2021

The remains of nine Neanderthals have been unearthed in the Guattari Cave near the seaside town of San Felice Circeo, 70 miles south of Rome. The cave’s entrance, blocked off by a rockslide that stopped human occupation of the site tens of thousands of years ago , was discovered by accident on February 24th, 1939. Inside were animal bones, the remains of hyena repasts, and in the last chamber the well-preserved cranium of a Neanderthal. The chamber would henceforth be dubbed the Antrum of Man.

Even with a large hole in the temple, it was one the best-preserved Neanderthal skulls discovered up to that time, and reports of the find made international headlines. The anthropologist who first studied the cave,  Alberto Carlo Blanc, hypothesized that the Neanderthals had practiced cannibalism, that they made a hole in the skull to extract and eat its contents.

New studies of the cave during recent stabilization work have brought to light new fossil specimens. The team found a new branch of the cave that had not been previously explored, and excavated the piles of bones again using methodologies and technologies that were not available when the remains were first investigated in the 1940s. Since the survey began in the fall of 2019, the mineralized bones of nine Neanderthal individuals have been recovered. Of the nine individuals, eight date to between 50,000 and 68,000 years ago, and one dates to between 100,000 and 90,000 years ago. They are all adults with one possible exception who may have been an older juvenile. Paleontologists believe the rockfall that sealed the cave took place around 50,000-60,000 years ago. It ensured no animal or man interfered with the paleontological remains until 1939, leaving them in excellent condition.

The discovery of bones from numerous individuals in one place will shed new light on how Neanderthals in prehistoric Italy lived, what they ate, what animals shared their environment. Preliminary examination of the dental tartar has found that the Neanderthal people ate a varied diet, including cereals that were foraged rather than cultivated. The team will also study what the hyenas ate, identify the pollen to know what plants lived in the area and do extensive genetic testing on the bones.

They’ve already identified unexpected species among the thousands of newly discovered bone specimens, including cave lions, cave bears, wild horses, rhinos, elephants and Megaloceros (giant deer) which were not previously known to inhabit the area and most of which were not naturally inclined to spelunking. It seems they were all meals for hyenas who caught them in the grasslands and dragged the carcasses back to the cave for safer feasting.

It appears that the hyenas also had a taste for Neanderthals, and one skull found at the site had a hole similar to the one found in the 1939 cranium. That find definitively put to rest Blanc’s theory of cannibalism and cult rituals.

“Reality is more banal,” Professor Rolfo said, adding that “hyenas like munching on bones” and probably opened a cavity in the skull to get to the brain.

It is unclear whether the Neanderthals were killed by the hyenas or the hyenas snacked on Neanderthals after they died from other causes.

“What it does mean is that there were many Neanderthals in the area,” Professor Rolfo said.

There is evidence of Neanderthal use of the cave to eat, not just be eaten. Burned coal and animal bones indicate they built organized hearths in the cave where they cooked and ate their own prey unconnected to the hyena agenda.


Catherine de’ Medici returns to Strawberry Hill House

May 8th, 2021

A portrait of Catherine de’ Medici with four of her children has returned to Strawberry Hill House 279 after Horace Walpole first bought it and 179 years after it was sold away with the rest of his vast collection. It is the only surviving contemporary portrait of Catherine de’ Medici, one of the most powerful queens in French history. It was acquired from its private owners as part of the Acceptance in Lieu scheme that allows donation of important items of cultural patrimony to pay off a tax bill. In this case the portrait has been accepted in lieu of of £1 million in taxes.

It was painted in 1561 by the workshop of Francois Clouet and depicts Catherine with her arm around her eldest surviving son 10-year-old Charles, who was then technically King Charles IX although Catherine ruled as his regent. His younger brother Henry, then Duke of Angoulême and Duke of Orléans, who would succeed Charles as monarch of France in 1574, stands to his right. Between them is their sister, Margaret, the future queen consort of Navarre who would become queen of France when her husband Henry III of Navarre became Henry IV of France. She was eight years old when this portrait was painted. In the bottom left is six-year-old Francis, Francis, Duke of Alençon and Anjou.

Dr Silvia Davoli, the curator at Strawberry Hill House, said Catherine’s gestures are highly symbolic, as she simultaneously presents the young monarch and protectively keeps him close to her, reflecting the substantial influence she held over the political life of France and the control and guidance she exercised over her son’s rule. It also shows the bond between members of the family – they are close and look alike.

It’s not known how such an important royal portrait found its way to England. Walpole, who was a huge Medici fanboy and once considered writing a history of the family, bought it for £25 from Hertfordshire county MP Thomas Plumer Byde. The Byde family had connections to the French monarchy that could be a possible explanation for how the portrait crossed the Channel. Thomas’ grandfather was paid 300 guineas by Louis XIV to oppose a separate peace between England and the Dutch republic that would end the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-1667). Maybe the Bourbon Louis threw in a portrait of the last Valois kings and their mum to sweeten the pot.

We don’t know exactly when Walpole first installed the painting in his Gothic Revival mansion in Twickenham, London, but it appears in the 1774 inventory of the Strawberry Hill collection. At that time it was hanging in the west end of the first floor Gallery, the same room where the Giambologna ostrich strutted its stuff. The portrait suffered the same fate as the ostrich: it was sold by Horace Walpole’s wastrel great-nephew in his everything-must-go firesale of the contents of Strawberry Hill, art collection to doorknobs, in April 1842.

The monumental portrait has only been seen in public three times in the past 126 years, most recently at a Strawberry Hill exhibition at the V&A in 2010. It will now be on permanent public display in the Gallery at Strawberry Hill House which reopens to visitors on May 17th. Dr. Davoli again:

“The acquisition of this unique portrait of Catherine de’ Medici with her Children is important not just for its great intrinsic value and meaning, but also because it gives us, at Strawberry Hill House, the possibility to reconstruct one of the many historical narratives that were at the basis of Walpole’s collecting strategies. This portrait speaks to us of Walpole’s interest in the Italian and French Renaissance, its protagonists and great art.”


Cannon from 2nd Spanish Armada recovered from looters

May 7th, 2021

A bronze cannon from the late 16th century that was looted from the seabed of Galicia, northwestern Spain, has been recovered by the Guardia Civil. The cannon was one of three discovered on April 14th by shellfish fishermen looking for goose-barnacles. Two of them were recovered the next day, but the third was gone, looted on the same day of their discovery.

The investigation into the theft uncovered a video recording the cannon in the act of being plundered with a hook and ropes. A number of suspects were interrogated based on the information in the video. Authorities found the cannon in the home of one of the suspects. Five men and two women are currently being investigated for crimes against cultural heritage.

“We reckon one of those being investigated decided to plunder the cannon on a whim because they thought it would make a nice decorative piece,” the Guardia Civil said in a statement. “But beyond any value it might have if you melted it down, it is an important piece because of the valuable historical and archaeological information it contains – information that gets lost if you remove it from its context and the place where it was found.”

Regional archaeologists believe it belonged to one of the ships of the 2nd Spanish Armada sent by Philip II to invade Ireland and England in 1596. This armada never even made it out of Spanish waters. It was struck with powerful storms off Cape Finisterre in Galicia. The fleet was utterly incapacitated: 43 ships lost, almost 5,000 dead from drowning during the storm or from the disease that ran rampant through the crew on the ships that managed to limp into ports. The disaster ended Spain’s attempts to open a second front against England by supporting the Irish rebels, and was such a huge financial hit to the crown that Philip had to declare bankruptcy. (Again.)

The cannon has been transported to the Museum of the Sea of ​​Vigo where it will it be studied and conserved along with its two brethren. After more than four centuries under salty sea water, the metal will need a sustained program of desalination in order the stabilize the piece and keep it from rapid deterioration now that it is exposed to air.


Gold bracteate hoard found in Norway

May 6th, 2021

A small hoard of Migration Period gold bracteates has been unearthed in Råde, southeastern Norway’s. The first four were discovered in 2019 by archaeologists and a metal detectorist. Last fall, a more in depth archaeological investigation of the find site revealed three more bracteates near a rock at the edge of the field. The seven were originally a single votive deposit that was scattered centuries later by agricultural work. This is the first bracteate find of more than one individual found in Norway in 70 years. Only 90 bracteate deposition groups like this one have been found in all of Scandinavia.

Inspired by the imperial Roman coinage that was melted down to produce them, bracteates were thin gold discs with gold beading around the rim and a loop fixed to the top. They were stamped on one side with diademed rulers, animals or figures from Norse mythology. They were produced between the 5th and 6th centuries, not as currency but as jewelry and status symbols. About 900 bracteates have been found in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany, England. Only 160 of them were discovered in Norway.

Bracteates come in distinct types which have been classified as A, B, C and D based on their decorative motifs. A-types feature a diademed profile with runic characters around the border. B-types feature one to three human figures. C-bracteates feature a large head with hair over a horse, sometimes in combination with other animals and symbols. Ds feature stylized zoomorphic figures that can be hard to identify.

The seven discovered in Råde are C and D types, four of the former and three of the latter. As Ds are estimated to be the youngest variant, dating to the 6th century, which means the deposit could not have been made before 500 A.D. So expensive and rare a votive offering may have been spurred by calamity, and a series of volcanic eruptions in 536-540 generated such thick ash clouds that they obscured the sun for a year and caused widespread crop failure and starvation.

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”.


Medieval child found buried in Alcázar palace

May 5th, 2021

The remains of a little blonde-haired girl have been discovered buried under the royal chapel of the Gothic Palace in the Real Alcázar of Seville, southern Spain. This is the first burial ever discovered in the Real Alcázar palace.

The remains were discovered last month during restoration work on the 16th century ceramic tiles. Eight inches under the floor of the chapel’s main altar archaeologists found a lead sarcophagus 46 inches long, 16 inches wide at the head, 12 inches wide at the feet and a foot deep. Inside was a deteriorating wood coffin and the complete articulated skeleton of a child. Blonde hairs were found at the nape of her neck and a permanent molar indicates she was about five years old when she died. . Fragments of her clothing — fabric, shoe leather and two mother-of-pearl buttons — were also found in the coffin. Next to the coffin were six boxes containing an earthy substance that will be excavated and analyzed.

So far there is no evidence pointing to the child’s identity, no seal or mark on the lead coffin or in the surviving wood. The fact that she was buried in a lead sarcophagus indicates she belonged to a very wealthy family, as does the palace location. Radiocarbon dating results aren’t expected for another three months, but the sarcophagus style suggests it dates the 13th-14th century.

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.”

Archaeologists and palace officials are on the lookout for the possible original location. They suspect there are more bodies to be found somewhere inside the palace, perhaps a crypt in the Gothic Palace built by King Alphonso X of Castile over the Almohad-era palace destroyed in the Christian reconquest of Seville.

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 practiced in their quest for eternal life.”


Viking prince’s bones found in mislabeled box

May 4th, 2021

The skeletal remains of a Viking aristocrat unearthed at the Bjerringhøj mound in Jutland in 1868 have been rediscovered after more than a century spent in a mislabeled box in the National Museum of Denmark.

Located in the village of Mammen, the mound was first dug up by the landowner as fill to level a depression. He and his buddies stripped the topsoil and exposed the central grave: a wooden chamber grave replete with precious objects which they happily helped themselves to and showed off in the village. Arthur Feddersen, a fishery professor at the Viborg Cathedral School with a passion for archaeology, heard about the find and went to the site. The farmers had scattered everything that they weren’t interested in looting — textile fragments, bones, feathers — leaving nothing in situ. He interrogated them to document as much as possible about the structure of the grave and its goods and a subsequent survey recorded what was left of the burial. The grave goods were eventually reclaimed from the villagers and sent to the National Museum of Denmark.

From surviving fragments we know the deceased was richly clad in woolen garments decorated with purple and red silk and red and blue embroidery. He wore two cape bands, padded silk cuffs decorated with bands of silk, silver and gold threads, which survived the crude excavation in good condition. The individual had been laid to rest on down bedding in a wooden coffin, and the coffin placed inside a wooden chamber grave sealed with blue clay. Two iron axes were at his feet, one of them decorated with intricate silver inlay which was the first of its kind ever found and whose decorative motif is now known as Mammen style. Atop the coffin was a bronze bucket, two wood buckets a wax candle almost two feet long which may be an indication that the deceased was Christian.

Dendrochronological analysis of wood recovered during a 1986 re-excavation revealed the man was buried in the winter of 970-1 A.D., during the reign of King Harald Bluetooth, first Christian king of Denmark who had converted in the 960s. The Bjerringhøj burial is one of the greatest finds of the Viking era. It has the largest textile assemblage ever found in a Danish Viking grave and the greatest quantity of silk ever found in a Danish Viking grave. The richness of the furnishings suggest the deceased was a high-ranked aristocrat in the circle of the king himself, perhaps even a member of the royal family.

His elite status could not protect his remains from falling down the storage hole, however. There was very little written about the bones at the time of the discovery. The only extant description of them is a brief paragraph from 1872 declaring the surviving right radius, right ulna, right foot and one molar were from an adult. Sex could not be determined, and then the bones went missing so subsequent researchers were unable to analyze them to learn more about the deceased despite several attempts to locate them over the years.

The bones were rediscovered by accident as part of a project investigating textiles found in elite Danish Viking graves, the Bjerringhøj textiles among them. Researchers found the bones in a box labelled “Slotsbjergby,” site of another Viking Age burial found on Zealand in 1897. Bones were unearthed at Slotsbjergby, but fragments of textiles attached to the ones in this box matched the Bjerringhøj textiles, not Slotsbjergby’s.

The extant remains include the shafts of the right humerus and right ulna, the lower part of a right radius, and the trapezium and the trapezoid from the right wrist. From the lower body, the shafts of the right and left femora are present, along with the broken distal end of the left femur, a fragment of an unsided patella, a right tibia with a broken proximal epiphysis, a fragment of the left tibia shaft, the shafts of the right and left fibulae, and a fragment of the right calcaneus.

All the bones mentioned in the 1872 report are present — right humerus and ulna, lower right radius, right wrist bones, right heel — except for the fragment of molar which is probably lost for good. Also in the box are the shafts of the right and left femora, a fragment of patella, a right tibia, a fragment of the left tibia shaft and the shafts of the right and left fibulae.

Another key piece of evidence that these are the bones retrieved from the Bjerringhøj burial are the fragments and imprints of textiles preserved on the right tibia, femora and fibulae. A piece of twill on the right tibia is an exact match for an embroidered textile from Bjerringhøj. A little further up on the same tibia are two rolls of cloth identical to the rolled padding inside the pair of cape bands.

Unfortunately the bones are not in good enough condition for DNA retrieval and without the long bones and pelvis sex and age are still hard to determine. Measurement suggests the deceased was male and older than 30 years, but there could also be a mixture of bones from two individuals as the right radius and heel bone are more gracile, so from a more petite individual, either younger or female.

The study had been published in the journal Antiquity and can be read in its entirety here.


Unframed Botticelli reveals original paint

May 3rd, 2021

The removal of the frame encasing Sandro Botticelli and Filippino Lippi’s Adoration of the Kings in London’s National Gallery has revealed original paint, giving conservators a rich source of information to restore the tempera-on-wood masterpiece. The work has suffered hardships in the six centuries since it was painted, some accidental (water damage), some blunderous (drastic overcleaning). It was bought by The National Gallery in 1857, and it was so brutally “restored” that many details were lost.

In order to conserve it by modern standards, the National Gallery team first took X-rays which showed that the painting continued underneath the top of the frame. When restorer Jill Dunkerton and conservator Britta New removed it from its frame, they found that while very dirty, the paint underneath was in excellent condition compared to the main part of the composition which was sadly flattened by the terrible 19th century cleaning. The unframing also made new sense of the proportions of the figures and their grouping in three levels. The bottom of the frame had hidden a step and made the figures on the left and center look like they were different sizes for no reason.

The painting’s dimensions — 20 inches high and 54 inches wide — suggest that it may have originally been designed to fit a piece of furniture, so it’s unclear when it was first framed. The one that was removed dates to the 19th century when framers in Florence created a custom-carved frame that would accommodate the concave warp the long panel had developed by then.

Here’s a video of the frame being removed piece by piece:

It was painted around 1470, early in the careers of Sandro Botticelli and Filippino Lippi. Botticelli had just struck out on his own after working as an apprentice in the studio of Fra Filippo Lippi, Filippino’s natural father, who had died the year before. Filippino completed his apprenticeship in Botticelli’s new workshop and was listed as his sole assistant in the guild records of 1472. In an unusual twist, The Adoration of the Kings was started by Filippino and then completed by Sandro. Generally apprentices completed the works of the masters, not the other way around. Botticelli is likely responsible for the crowd of kings, horses and onlookers on the left, the dwarf and the man gazing upwards in the central section and the shepherds on the right; Filippino’s hand is evident in the Virgin and Child, the kneeling king kissing Christ’s foot and the entourage behind him.

The distant town, lake and rocks in the center background were copied from Saint Francis of Assisi Receiving the Stigmata by Jan van Eyck, now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Early Northern Renaissance art was much in fashion in Florence at the time, and drawings of important works made their way south where Florentine artists used versions of them in their own designs.

Botticelli and Lippi’s northern inspiration gave Jill Dunkerton a unique window into what the original would have looked like before the scrubbing. She was able to study Van Eyck’s piece to recreate some of the lost detail, and the results of her retouching are pretty spectacular so far. Check out this video of her at work. The before and after of the rocks is a particularly striking contrast.


Bronze Age jewelry depot found in Sweden

May 2nd, 2021

More than 50 pieces of bronze jewelry from the late Bronze Age have been discovered in Alingsås, southwestern Sweden. Dating to between 750 and 500 B.C., it is one of the largest Late Bronze Age ceremonial depositions ever found in Sweden, and one of the most spectacular in terms of quality and condition of the objects. It’s also the first time since the Fröslunda shields were unearthed in the 1980s that a Swedish Bronze Age votive find has been excavated by archaeologists.

The first objects were found by chance by Tomas Karlsson who was documenting the wooded terrain for an orienteering map. He spotted 10 pieces scattered on open ground in front of some boulders. At first he thought they were trash, random metal bits from a broken lamp, perhaps. When he leaned closer, he saw an intricate spiral and a necklace.

The find was reported and county officials commissioned an archaeological investigation to recover any other artifacts that might be at the site and to learn everything they could about their context. Last week, archaeologists and conservators from the regional cultural development administration teamed up with researchers from the University of Gothenburg to survey the find site. They found about 50 objects either intact or in large part extant, plus about 20 bronze fragments of indeterminate origin and 10 iron fragments.

About 20% of the objects were found inside a pot placed under a boulder. The other 80% were found outside the pot but in proximity to it. Archaeologists suspect the objects had been dislodged from under the pot by wild animals using the spaces between and beneath the boulders to burrow and/or nest.

They artifacts in such pristine condition that at first glance they were suspected of being modern copies, but closer inspection revealed that they were authentic Bronze Age pieces.

“Most of the finds consist of bronze objects that can be associated with a high-status woman from the Bronze Age. They have been used to decorate various body parts, such as necklaces, bracelets and foot rings, but also large needles and hoops that have been used to decorate and hold up various forms of clothing that were probably made of wool,” says Johan Ling professor of archeology at the University of Gothenburg .

In addition to necklaces, clothes pins, spirals, chains and a tutulus (clothing or belt ornament), a hollow ax and residual products from bronze casting were found. A rod that is believed to have been used to stimulate and spur horses was also found. It is a type of object that has been found in Denmark but not so far in Sweden.

The location alone is highly unusual for a Bronze Age deposition site. Bronze and Iron Age peoples sacrificed high-value metalwork for religious reasons. Usually these sacrifices were made in and around lakes and rivers, so the ritual offerings have been unearthed in the peat bogs and agricultural land the ancient bodies of water turned into over the centuries. This site is woodland, not wetland, and it was forested when the objects were deposited.

The objects are now being conserved and studied, with the immediate emphasis on ensuring their stability now that they’ve been removed from the protective cocoon and exposed to air. Eventually they will likely be put on public display in a museum close to the find site.





May 2021


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