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Thread: The Egtved Girl (Nordic Bronze Age)

  1. #11
    Mein Glaube ist die Liebe zu meinem Volk. Juthunge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hauke Haien View Post
    We cannot be sure who ruled the Black Forest during that time, but when Ariovist crosses the Rhine and confronts Caesar in the first century, he is perhaps continuing a process of Germanic expansion that reached the region during the upheavals surrounding the Cimbrian Wars of the second century, seizing the area from the Celts and developing it by cutting deeper into the forest.
    It certainly does seem as though southwestern Germany had largely been abandoned by the Celts under Germanic pressure because there is a sparsity of findings from the last two centuries BC. It’s also literally addressed as the “desert of the Helvetii”. Since the land is very fertile, the only reason to leave it is external pressure.

    This first Germanic expansion was only stopped by the Romans, otherwise the land north of the Alps and east of the Rhine would have certainly become Germanic centuries earlier. It would have actually been interesting to see what could have become out of some local cooperation of Germanic military prowess and will, coupled with Celtic pre-urban high culture, uninfluenced by much southern influence. A northern Rome, perhaps?

    Alongside the Trundholm sun chariot, Kiviksgraven and the Golden Hat of Schifferstadt, which are roughly contemporary with her, we should think of her as an item of Indo-European religion, inextricably connected to cosmological beliefs first demonstrated by the Nebra sky disk of the Early Bronze Age and the Goseck circle of the Neolithic period, and continuing into the foundations of Germanic religion and identity.
    Agreed with the rest but the Goseck circle seems like a very unlikely item of Indo-European culture proper and is rather an expression of some preceding EEF culture(LBK or Stroked Pottery).
    So the Indo-Europeans might have well continued some local Neolithic traditions but it wasn’t originally so. It predates the coming of the Indo-Europeans into Central Europe by almost 2.000 years and it would be sort of anachronistic to address it as such.
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  3. #12
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    The Goseck circle and the Nebra sky disk are worth mentioning together despite a 3000-year gap between them because the gates of the circular ditch enclosure correspond to the horizon band(s) on the disk, marking the sunrise and sunset points at the solstices for this particular latitude. Additionally, the position on the Mittelberg, where the disk was found at a distance of about 20-25km from the Goseck circle, had two straight walls probably dating to the time of the disk enclosing the hilltop, plus a ring wall another thousand years younger. This position allows observation of the Brocken and Kyffhäuser hills, both mythologically charged in German folklore, and they are situated at the sunset points at summer solstice and at Walpurgis Night, respectively. Not all monuments and landscapes have a connection to archaeoastronomy, so this is certainly noteworthy.

    The Otherworld Hall on the Boyne

    (A foray into Germanic archaeology featuring the Trundholm sun chariot starts with the topic raised around 43:50)

    Lecture 1: Confronting Ancient Myth
    Lecture 2: The Otherworld Hall on the Boyne
    Lecture 3: In Pursuit of the Otherworld
    Lecture 4: The Horse Goddess
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    Lecture 6: Sacral Kingship

    I understand that repeated assertion of local continuity for an Indo-European people at some point automatically results in an Indo-European homeland hypothesis and we are not ready to answer that question decisively at the moment.

    Comparative religion is a field where extreme continuity is not universal, but in some cases quite normal. So when I point out correspondences, I do not mean to imply that they are unique and special and linear. The Indo-Europeans are likely to have originated somewhere in Europe, equipped with a much older biological and cultural repertoire, transformed and arranged into a constellation peculiar to them, forming clusters in the web of relations that we know as families, tribes or nations where language, religion and history are linked in a united identity. The swastika, for example, is certainly not the most frequent but one of the most important and central symbols of the Indo-Europeans, but it was not invented by them nor were they the first or the last to sing about a dragonslayer or to think about the order of the world and the heavens above.

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  4. #13
    Senior Member Theunissen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huginn ok Muninn View Post

    "All we have to do is label some German princess an 'immigrant' because she moved to Denmark and married a Dane, and that will be the argument for flooding Denmark with 4639468340658945069840659840 Negroes, because they are 'immigrants' too, and therefore just like Egtved Girl!"
    Oh, I've seen that argument over and over again, but they don't grasp the refutation: Danes and Germans are both Germanic people's PLUS I'd guess Denmark was sparsely populated at this time.

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    New research challenges the origin of 'The Egtved girl'

    The question of her origin is widely debated. My research shows that she probably was from Scandinavia – but not from Jutland.

    Where was ‘home’ for ‘The Egtved girl’? This question is a hot topic in Bronze Age archaeology right now.

    First Karin Frei and her research group conducted innovative strontium analysis (a type of analysis) from which they argued that she most probably came from the Black Forest region (in southwest Germany). This was a groundbreaking discovery, as she was presumed to be of Danish origin until then.

    However, based on geological strontium analysis of Danish soils, Erik Thomsen and Rasmus Andreasen recently returned her to her Danish origin as they argued she grew up in the same area where she was found (near Egtved Village, west of Vejle).

    Both research groups based their ideas on geology and strontium isotope results, a method that uses strontium isotopes, present in tooth enamel and hair, to identify where an individual was born and/or lived.

    Probably from Scandinavia – but not Jutland
    My research looked at the strontium isotope results and the archaeological material together and revealed that she was probably Scandinavian, although not from Jutland.

    Instead, I show based on the objects she had with her in the grave, that she was probably from the island Bornholm, from south-eastern Sweden or from Rogaland, in southwestern Norway.

    Now how can I argue for 3 different locations? The objects she had with her in the grave are not specific to pinpoint one location but they show us these three possible areas that works with the strontium isotope results as well.

    'The Egtved girl', who should really be seen as a woman in Bronze Age terms, was between 16 to 18 years old.

    In the Bronze Age the average life expectancy was only about 30 years. European studies of Bronze Age graves reveal that females were treated as adults around age 14. The same research show that women were pregnant around 14-15 years of age.

    My research has shown that this was the case for Scandinavia, too.

    Did she travel from Germany to meet her husband?
    Frei and her colleagues base their conclusion on new methods, which mean that we can see the movement of a Bronze Age person from one location to another over time.

    They argue that she travelled from South Germany to Denmark to visit her husband-to-be and then back to southern Germany, only to return to Denmark six months later to form a partnership there.

    In yet another corner, we find Thomsen and Andreasen. They argue that all the strontium values could be local and that the geology in the local area caused the different values.

    Strontium isotopes enter our bodies through what we eat and drink. The bedrock the water flows through or the food that grows on top of it produces different values.

    This means that we can identify the values present in different regions, which in turn can provide clues about where a prehistoric person lived.

    Most scientists involved in strontium isotope studies on archaeological material agree that the water we drink is the biggest contributor to our strontium isotope values.

    Thomsen and Andreasen uses only their new baseline for the Vejle area to argue for a local origin. They argue that this area of Denmark has a broader strontium baseline values than the rest of Denmark (except Bornholm). At no point do they use archaeological material or knowledge about the Bronze Age to provide clues about the origin of the Egtved woman.

    Did she drink water from the Vejle-area?
    The absence of a social explanation for why the Egtved woman was drinking water and eating food from different parts of Vejle area is not explained.

    Thomsen and Andreasen appear to have no background knowledge about the Bronze Age, so they have not considered the context. If the woman ate food and drank water from all over the Vejle region and was permanently settled near the mound in Egtved, would the result not have been a mixed non-changing strontium isotope signature instead?

    The strontium isotope values in the water we drink and the food we eat are absorbed by the body. If the water and food, as today, comes from many different areas then the strontium isotope values in the enamel or hair would show a value that mixes all these values into one.

    In other words, it would not show one of the values but a mixture of them. This mixture would be the same over the years if the food and drink kept coming from the same areas.

    In the Bronze Age it makes sense that she would have travelled between different regions rather than that her food has been moved from a large area to her and had come from different region at a non-seasonal pattern.

    Archaeology can help us understand
    So what does archaeology tell us about the Egtved woman?

    Before Frei and her team wrote their article no one doubted a local origin for her, which strengthens Thomsen and Andreasen’s interpretation.

    However, the Nordic Bronze Age is much bigger than Denmark.

    Parts of present-day northern Germany, southern Sweden and southern Norway also belonged to this sphere. A large variety of strontium isotope values can be found in the ground in different parts of Scandinavia.

    We know that the Egtved woman was dressed in clothing that we typically see as Nordic Bronze Age dress.

    To date, the corded skirt she wore has only been found in the Nordic Bronze Age in Scandinavia and in parts of China during the Bronze Age.

    Most of the known corded skirts are from eastern Denmark and Scania (southern region of Sweden), though some examples are from southern Norway and Jutland.

    Only Egtved’s corded skirt is fully preserved, but thanks to the fashion of bronze tubes decorating the cords on the skirts, mainly in eastern Denmark and Scania, we know of more than 40 skirts from this region.

    Her skirt came from the area
    The strontium isotope value of the corded skirts presented by Frei and colleagues is similar to the value of her tooth and the tooth of the cremated child that was found in a small box next to her. This may mean that her corded skirt was made in her home area. It also strengthens the idea of a Nordic Bronze Age origin.

    The Egtved woman was buried with a belt-plate, two arm-rings, a small ring found close to the head, an awl and a comb.

    The two arm-rings are commonly found all over Europe and so do not give information about where she came from. The same can be said about the awl.

    The small ring found near the head is unusual in Scandinavia, and could point to a link to somewhere else in Europe. Small rings placed near the head are common in many parts of Central Europe and therefore do not prove an origin in the Black Forest.

    There are few or no traces of Bronze Age houses or burials in the Black Forest region. The area seems not to have been populated in the period, which makes it unlikely she came from that region.

    A connection with the Nordic Bronze Age region is illustrated by the belt-plate and the comb. Both objects are commonly found in Scandinavian burials. Can they also help to show whether she originated in the Vejle region or somewhere else in the Nordic region?

    The combs are not helping
    The combs are found on Jutland, Zealand, and Scania. Most of the horn combs are found on Jutland, but this is due to the outstanding preservation of the mounds in this region. The comb does not help us answer the question of where in Scandinavia she was born.

    Belt-plates are generally more commonly found in eastern Denmark and southern Sweden than in southern Denmark. They are rarely found in southern Denmark.

    The Egtved woman’s belt-plate has a special spiral pattern (see figure) which otherwise is only found in other spiral decoration known from south-eastern Sweden and Rogaland, Norway.

    In these areas one can find strontium isotope values that correlate with her tooth (childhood) and some of the values from samples of hair.

    Thomsen and Andreasen’s idea of her being from the Vejle-area needs to be challenged because strontium isotope values cannot prove local origin.

    The method can only show if someone previously lived in another location. Prehistoric individuals with a local baseline can be from many areas as the same strontium isotope values can be found in many areas. It is up to geologists to discuss whether or not all of Egtved’s strontium isotope values could be local.

    Archaeologically, it makes no sense that a woman buried in the centre of a mound, a woman who had status and prestige, would have moved around within the local area, living just a short time at different households in the region.

    This pattern of movement would have fit a lower status person who needed to move to find work.

    Remains a mystery
    Exactly who the Egtved woman was remains a mystery. She seems to have had few relations (if any) within the Vejle area.

    Maybe she was a respected specialist of some kind who travelled with her work? The sheets of heather and wool cord with oxtail hair that accompanied her may indicate that she was a skilled healer, or it could be evidence that she was ill before she died.

    In the Bronze Age context it is more likely that she actually travelled between regions and made longer stops during her journeys.

    Taking a combined view of the evidence, the Black Forest is unlikely to have been her home, while there are persuasive reasons to suggest an origin in the Nordic Bronze Age.

    New methods and natural scientific analysis have brought new information to archaeology but the interpretation of these discoveries always needs to be combined with archaeological knowledge.

    The numbers themselves give us no answers; they must be seen alongside archaeological data and knowledge in order to make sense.

    Further studies into the movement patterns of Bronze Age peoples might help us understand why the Egtved woman received the honour of being placed under a mound in the Vejle area when she died so soon after arriving to the area.

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    Senior Member Fylgje's Avatar
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    "Nordic Bronze Age is much bigger than Denmark." That's the point.

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    People have not been that isolated as is usually claimed. Isotope tests on some of the swamp mummies showed that they travelled long distances with months of staying in several areas, amounting to several years of travel, prior to their overkill-deaths, other medical data suggests that they belonged to a class that does no manual labour (kings, or more likely, priest class), so at least between the priests all across northern Europe incl Britain there was lively and intense contact with each other. The bones buried under the blue stones in Stonehenge also show that the individuals did not all originate in the direct area, some apparently even came from mainland Europe. Maybe we werent as "barbaric" as the Romans wanted to depict us, after all.

    We were most isolated during the early and median middle ages, before that people were apparently more mobile. It's however the "historically recorded" perception of the middle ages that people "never left their village". Plus that before the 14th century, the sea levels were considerably lower, north and east sea were much smaller, and there seem to appear hints that Doggerland was inhabited much longer than previously thought, which would mean that there were land bridges between mainland Europe, Scandinavia and Britain, making contact even more likely.
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