Puzzling Stone Age Labyrinth Discovered in Denmark, What Was It Used For?
A team of archaeologists have recently uncovered a large, puzzling labyrinth from the Neolithic period in Denmark. Some researchers suggest that it could have been used as an ancient sun worship site, but for now the structure’s exact purpose remains a mystery.
Latest Mysterious Construction Added in Long Series of Stone Age Finds
The peculiar Stone Age labyrinth was recently discovered at Stevns in Denmark. Its purpose and usage remains a mystery for now, but this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, since there have been many finds spotted from the same time period that puzzle the archaeological world.
For example, in 2015, archaeologists investigating caves on Blå Jungfrun, Sweden, discovered another mysterious labyrinth and caves, where they suggest that strange rituals and performances dating back 9,000 years might have taken place. Additionally, as we reported in Ancient Origins a few months ago, there was another puzzling find discovered in Scandinavia – a mysterious stone found in a ditch on Bornholm, a Danish island in the Baltic Sea – which is speculated to be one of the earliest maps in human history, even though its exact purpose and usage remains unknown to this day.
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The labyrinth at the island of Blå Jungfrun, Sweden. (CC BY 3.0)
The recent discovery was made by a group of archaeologists from the Museum Southeast Denmark, who estimated that the specific enclosure dates to the Neolithic period and appears to cover an oval area of nearly 18,000 square meters (19,3750.39 sq. ft.). As archaeologist and leader of the excavation, Pernille Rohde Sloth, said in a translated statement which Science Nordic reports:
“It was actually somewhat overwhelming to experience that it is possible to reveal the traces of such a huge building from the Neolithic period. There are many suggestions for what they could’ve been used for, but to put it simply, we just don’t know.”
Some of the objects discovered thus far. From right: shards of decorated pottery, fragments
of an axe and a battle axe (Dan Nielsen, Museum South-east Denmark)
What Happened Inside the Labyrinth that was so “Private?”
One of the most perplexing things about the fencing at Stevns is the construction of the entrances. The enclosure is constructed in five rows that extend outwards and the opening in each row seems to be offset from the others. Sloth speculates that the irregular design was intentional, “The openings don’t seem to sit next to each of the post rows, and we're slightly amazed by that. But maybe it functioned as a sort of labyrinth--at least that’s how we imagine it. That way you weren’t able to look inside the common space, which may have been an advantage” she says.
The archaeologists have not yet discovered what the site was used for. (Pernille Rohde Sloth)
However, the most puzzling question of all is: What exactly happened inside the enclosure that had to be so secretive? Even though archaeologists have not yet discovered any similar constructions in the area that could help them understand a little better what may have possibly went on in the enclosure, Sloth shares her thoughts with Science Nordic,
“A palisade construction is typically built for protection, but we don’t think that that is what the construction at Stevns is. The rows of poles would have been around two metres high and weren’t very close together, so you could probably squeeze through them if you wanted to. We believe that it was some kind of fenced gathering area, but it’s difficult to say what it was used for.”
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Labyrinth Could Have Had a Ritual Purpose
One of the most possible theories is that the labyrinth could have had a ritual purpose. During the late 1980’s, researchers exploring on the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, found a big palisade constructed of timber. At the site they also discovered a Sun temple including several sun symbols, while a similar temple was discovered on another part of the island.
A Sunstone found in Vasa farm in 2014. Sunstones are small, embellished slate plates that have ' rays ', emanating from a central point. (John Lee, National Museum)
Despite some experts suggesting that such sun temples only existed on Bornholm, head archaeologist at the Bornholm Museum, Finn Ole Sonne Nielsen, does not eliminate the idea that the enclosure at Stevns could contain similar finds, Nielsen said as Message to Eagle reports:
“It could well have had a ritual purpose. What’s really exciting about this place is whether [they] find something else in the enclosure similar to our Bornholm discoveries. It would not surprise me if it was a temple area. It would have enclosed something and I think that these temples were much more widespread than we tend to believe.”
However, archaeologists point out that without further excavations it would not be wise to draw any strong conclusions and all these theories for the purpose of the ancient labyrinth in Denmark are just speculations for now. Ultimately, the archaeologists excavating the site reassure that they will continue their work and hopefully they will soon discover more evidence that will help them to answer with confidence the many questions regarding this mysterious site.
Palisades at Sarup in Denmark. The features look similar to those discovered at Stevns, though slightly different in shape. (Lützau Pedersen / Witte, 2012)
Top Image: The dark green dotted lines indicate where scientists have dug their trenches and excavated the site. The position of where the palisade is believed to have been is marked in red. The light green dashed line shows the lack of finds. Source: Danish Geodata Agency / Pernille Rohde Sloth