One of the newly-discovered graves in Demark containing a blue bead matching glass from an Egyptian workshop

Glass beads link King Tutankhamun and Bronze Age Nordic women

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Scientists working in Denmark have unearthed glass blue beads crafted in an ancient Egyptian workshop for King Tutankhamun that made its way north to Europe 3,400 years ago.  The find helps prove there was contact between the two regions long ago and suggests possible ancient trade routes.

Danish and French archaeologists analyzed some beads buried with women’s bodies from Bronze Age Denmark and found they originated in the same workshop that made beads for the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun, who died in 1323 BC. It is also the same glass chemical composition found in Tutankhamun’s gold death mask, reports . The solid gold death mask contains blue glass in the stripes of the headdress, as well as in the inlay of the plaited false beard.

Tutankhamun’s death mask contains the same blue glass that was found recently in Danish graves

Tutankhamun’s death mask contains the same blue glass that was found recently in Danish graves. Credit: Carsten Frenzl / flickr reported on the findings: “Twenty-three glass beads from Denmark were analyzed using plasma-spectrometry. Without destroying the fragile beads, this technique makes it possible to compare the chemical composition of trace elements in the beads with reference material from Amarna in Egypt and Nippur in Mesopotamia, about 50 km (31 miles) south east of Baghdad in Iraq. The comparison showed that the chemical composition of the two sets of trace elements match.”

It is the first time that archaeologists have found glass cobalt beads from Egypt outside the Mediterranean. One of the beads was unearthed in a wealthy woman’s grave in Ølby, about 40 km (24.8 miles) south of Copenhagen.  The woman had been buried in a hollowed-out tree trunk and was adorned with a skirt consisting of bronze tubes, and various jewelry items, including a bracelet made with amber beads and a single blue glass bead. The same type of blue bead was also found in a necklace in another nearby grave.

Blue bead found in Denmark

Blue bead found in Denmark. Credit: Denmark National Museum

The researchers speculate that glass and amber, which have been found together in burial sites in the Middle East, Turkey, Germany, Greece, Italy and north to the Nordic regions, may be evidence of a link between Nordic and Egyptian sun religions. Indeed, one property that both glass and amber have in common is that they can both be penetrated by sunlight.

“When a Danish woman in the Bronze Age took a piece of jewelry made of amber and blue glass with her to the grave, it constituted a prayer to the sun to ensure that she would be reunited with it and share her fate with the sun's on its eternal journey,” writes “The old amber route to the countries in the Mediterranean thus now has a counterpart: the glass route to the North.”

The research, published in the Danish journal SKALK, shows that the ancient Egyptians, who were well known for their glass technology, operated trade routes that supplied Northern Europe with Egyptian-made glass at least 3,400 years ago. The researchers intend to continue investigating to determine if the trade route continued later in the Bronze Age, which ended around 600 BC in Europe.

Featured image:  One of the newly-discovered graves in Demark containing a blue bead matching glass from an Egyptian workshop. Credit:

By Mark Miller


Brandane's picture


mrtkpc's picture

Just goes to show how little we know about past human connections. I think that at least in some sense there was a global connect between cultures back then, and it's sad to see what we've become now. Single nations with borders whos citizens would die fighting for their country. We're all human beings, and only once we truly embrace this will there be any semblance of peace on Earth. 

Just wondering if anyone can tell me what the disc like object was, and also the long pointed object next to it?? :)

The long object is most likely a scabbard for a dagger.

Assuming their materials analysis is correct, the find proves only one thing - that some beads made in Egypt ended up in Denmark. It doesn't prove, nor is it even strong evidence of, contact between the two civilizations. That might be the case but to claim that it is so based on this is another example of the jumping to conclusions done by researchers

rbflooringinstall's picture

This is an awesome article! Of course people were connected across continents in ancient times, but to actually see some of the evidence is incredible.

Peace and Love,


Saiko is making a good point. This would have been an increasingly exotic and therefore valuable material the further away from Egypt it got. Eventually it would have changed hands into an area that had no idea how it was made and only that it came from a strange and distant land and was in every sense a treasure. This would mean that it didn't need to travel straight from source to vendor because every merchant could add a tasty markup as these things leapfrogged across the globe. Just my theorising, but I think many of the precious objects from ancient times that are found surprisingly far from home, have simply stopped moving at the point where someone just "had" to keep it. I'll bet the wealthy husband of the Scandinavian lady got some real earache until he coughed up for those beads!

What Saiko said is correct . Still, the beads do add to a growing number of factoids that silently point to a prehistoric trans-global trade co-op. This is the storyline I believe these beads contribute to; Firstly, consider the Paracas skulls in South America. I'm not talking about the ones just produced from binding but the ones composing of two and not the usual three parietal plates along with the larger cranial capacity. There can be no argument here, they do not fit in yet are as real as real gets. I will call them "Para-Sapiens". On the other side of the world, in Malta, connected with a Neolithic temple built in the Stonehenge timeline, there was another Para-Sapien skull found. I am no scientist but I bet one such skull may be labled an abberation but multiples of them and in more than one place? Sure, Europeans have curved tibulas and black Africans have straight ones. A Polynesian has a rocker jaw while others do not. A Polynesians' jaw, when set on a flat surface is curved enough to let it rock back and forth. A white mans jaw sits level. These are examples of slight but real differences between the races of man, but to have a totally different number of parts is not a racial marker, but a species deal breaker, in my opinion.

   Secondly, an autopsy done on some Egyptian mummies years ago revealed Cocaine residue. At first it was thought it was an ingredient of the mummification process but later its presence was believed to be recreational or medicinal in nature. Cocaine comes from South America. That news never really caused a stir as to "HOW" it got there. That was subject wise maybe not their line of questioning.

   There is a third factor I am working on, that is, copper from the Great Lakes moving down the Mississippi, formed into "Oxhide" ingots down south in Louisiana and then by Sea to markets elsewhere. There is some evidence to support this but I would like to hear about any tests done to identify North American copper used elsewhere on the planet. That would be my kinda smokin' gun.

   Now, we have Egyptian beads in Northern Europe at about the same time that the Egyptians are doing lines of cocaine. The Para sapiens were where the cocaine is at and the Island of Malta is in proximity to both Egypt and Scandinavia.

   I am asking anyone reading this, who can see an emerging picture to guide me to any more parts of this puzzle. If there is proof to the contrary, I would welcome that too, as I don't want to waste my time on a wild goose chase.Thinking outside the box has caused me many a stubbed toe.


Just to keep it real here, the discovery of Egyptian beads as such does not prove direct trade between Bronze Age Scandinavian peoples and Egypt, these beads most likely hands more than once before finally reaching the peoples of the north starting with traders from Greece, Crete, or Southern Europe and were sold or traded as they moved northward.

Now could have some adventurous soles traveled out of Scandinavia and went south and picked up these beads then brought them back with them sure, but actual trade routes with Egypt highly unlikely.

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