Denmark’s 3400-year old Egtved Girl from Bronze Age was probably a ‘foreigner’ from Germany

denmark-egtved-girl-bronze-age-germany_5Reconstruction of Egtved Girl's attire on a modern woman.

In terms of human history, Bronze Age people generally didn’t take part in overseas travels – as is evident from the more localized pattern of numerous settlements and artifacts. However, the iconic Bronze Age Egtved Girl from Denmark who was supposedly buried 3,400 years ago, goes against this circumstantial norm. Originally unearthed by archaeologists way back in 1921, her remains were again re-analysed in 2015. And from such detailed examinations (of her clothing, hair, nails and even teeth), the experts reached the conclusion that the (about) 18-year old teenager was probably a foreigner who spent most of her early life in Southern Germany.

Interestingly, the primary evidence that pointed to her foreign origins was salvaged from her renowned dress – a wool skirt belted with a large bronze disk with spiral-shaped embellishments (check the reconstruction here). To that end, the researchers first examined strontium isotopes (from the dress) that conventionally varies depending upon the geographical location. In essence, the ratio of these isotopes can often reveal the places where the person (being analysed) lived. So, in case of the Egtved Girl, the wool from her dress probably came from a Black Forest region in Germany, as opposed to Denmark.


The archaeologists also assessed the molar teeth and the preserved hair of the teenager. This is what study co-author Karin Frei, a geologist and archaeology researcher at the National Museum of Denmark, had to say about their related findings –

She moved from one place outside Denmark, to a place that could be Denmark, to a place very far from Denmark – where she spent a large portion of the last six months of her life. She probably died or got sick and died very shortly after her arrival to Egtved.

This scope of historical analysis certainly sheds new light into the traveling and trading capabilities of the Bronze Age people – endeavors that may been far evolved (and common) than thought earlier. As for the Egtved Girl, she might have been a southern German female who was mostly likely married off to a Danish chieftain to secure some kind of factional alliance. Furthermore, the spiral decorations of her belt were possibly crafted in the Alps region. These sun-shaped embellishments also hint at her probable priestess status within some Scandinavian sun-cult.

denmark-egtved-girl-bronze-age-germany_2 denmark-egtved-girl-bronze-age-germany_4

The study was originally published on May 21st, 2015, in the journal Scientific Reports.

Via: BBC / All Images Credit: National Museum of Denmark

About the Author

Dattatreya Mandal
Dattatreya Mandal has a bachelor's degree in Architecture (and associated History of Architecture) and a fervent interest in History. Formerly, one of the co-owners of an online architectural digest, he is currently the founder/editor of The latter is envisaged as an online compendium that mirrors his enthusiasm for ancient history, military, mythology, and historical evolution of architecture.
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