Spirals of Golden Thread Uncovered in Denmark

Beautiful and Enigmatic Spirals of Golden Thread Uncovered in Denmark

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Two thousand winding spirals of golden metal threads have been discovered by archaeologists in a field in southwestern Zealand, Denmark.

The glittering masses of golden metal threads spun into spirals are thought to date to between 900 and 700 BC, and may have been used on ceremonial robes of sun-worshiping priests in the Bronze Age.

The rare gold spirals are made from thin, flat, pressed gold threads, and the trove was uncovered by amateur archaeologist Christian Albertsen on behalf of the West Zealand Museum, reports news website The Local .

Albertsen had felt that the significant archaeological site on the island of Zealand in Denmark had more to reveal than the four gold bracelets and six gold bowls which had been recovered by a team in past digs.

The longest spiral is approximately three centimeters long and they on average weigh only 0.1 grams each.

The purpose of the precious filaments isn’t yet understood.

The spiraled golden flat threads found in the ground in  Zealand, Denmark—a hotspot of Bronze Age ritual activity.

The spiraled golden flat threads found in the ground in  Zealand, Denmark—a hotspot of Bronze Age ritual activity. Credit: Nationalmuseet

OnlinePost reports that Flemming Kaul, curator with the National Museum of Denmark believes the pieces may have been used to adorn ceremonial garb for high-status peoples of a sun worshiping cult. Kaul says of the find, “The fact is that we don’t know what they were for, but I lean towards them being used as part of a priest king’s clothing or head piece.”

According to the Textile Research Centre in Netherlands, the origins of flat metal thread embroidery is unknown, but is considered ancient, and was likely developed where gold and other metals were in supply for jewelry and other fine objects (as is the case in Zealand.) Such rich adornment is associated with wealth and status, and can be religious in nature.

During the Bronze Age, Danish and many European ancestors worshiped the sun.

The archaeological site in Zealand is known as one of northern Europe’s richest troves of golden artifacts from the Bronze Age. Several golden fibulae, or brooches, were found at the same time, which enabled a more precise dating, in that fibulae replaced the straight pins which fastened clothing from the Neolithic Period. Eventually, fibulae were themselves replaced with buttons by the Middle Ages.

The remains of a fur-lined wooden box was also recovered.

Early fibulae. 7th – 5th centuries BC.

Early fibulae. 7th – 5th centuries BC. Shawn Michael Caza/ CC BY-SA 2.5

The amazing abilities and methods of Bronze Age metal craftsmen cannot be denied. Last year archaeologists revealed the process utilized by highly-skilled craftsmen to create the magnificent gold artifacts that were found around Stonehenge.  The intricate gold work involved such tiny components that optical experts believe they could only have been made by children or adults with extreme short-sightedness, and would have caused lasting damage to their eyesight.

Detail of the decoration of the dagger handle

Detail of the decoration of the dagger handle, shown next to a sewing needle for scale. The studs were placed in straight lines and the heads overlapped each other like fish scales. Credit: University of Birmingham and David Bukach

Large and small golden rings were found at the Zealand site two years ago, and in the 1800s six golden bowls were found by local farmers, leading researchers to think the location near Boeslunde was at one time a Bronze Age ritual site. In all, several kilos of golden artifacts have been recovered there.

Researchers from the National Museum and West Zealand Museum strongly believe that vast quantities of golden artifacts have yet to be found at the Boeslunde location. Therefore, teams of private researchers along with archaeologists from the Museum Vestsjælland plan to excavate cooperatively in hopes of shedding more light on the golden treasures of the Bronze Age Danes and their mysterious crafting methods and purposes.

Featured Image: The Bronze Age golden spirals are each approximately 3 centimeters long and weigh only 0.1 grams each. Credit: Vestsjællands Museum.

By Liz Leafloor

Comments

Swarf perhaps?

Justbod's picture

More evidence of the beautiful gold work of the bronze age. Some simply stunning artefacts from that time, and I'm sure that we will discover more in the future.

Many thanks for the article!

 

Sculptures, carvings & artwork inspired by a love of history & nature: www.justbod.co.uk

 

 

 

That's what I think curly gold wig for a holy man

 

So did they find gold threads, or just golden colored threads made out of some cheaper metal?  You can’t tell from reading the article.  And the artilce also calls every other object it references “golden,” so it leaves the reader up in the air about whether it refers to their color or to their metallic status.

This artilce doesn’t seem to understand the difference between “golden’ and “gold.”  Tons of things have golden colors, from school colors to hair color.   Wordsworth wrote a poem about the golden daffodils.  

 

Tom Carberry

lizleafloor's picture

Hi Tom, thanks for the comment. Point taken, and the spirals were made of pure gold, according to the sources.

these are for keeping hair together, perhaps hair extensions...

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