Historical knowledge

A vessel with tin tacks

The man from Guldhøj was given a fine wooden vessel in the grave. It was decorated with tin tacks hammered in to form a star pattern; perhaps a symbol of the radiant sun. This was a clearly identifiable prestige object. Tin is only found in a few places in Europe and it must have been expensive. Because of the good preservation conditions in the Bronze Age oak coffins, 22 wooden vessels found in Denmark and northern Germany survive. These include complete and fragmentary examples and date to the Early Bronze Age. Fourteen of them are decorated with tin tacks. This type of vessel has only been found in the area around Ringkøbing and southward towards North Schleswig. They were probably used all over the Danish area, but only in the Jutland oak-coffin graves were the preservation conditions so favourable that the wood could survive until today. Perhaps the vessels, which mainly appear in men’s graves, played a role in connection with drinking rituals at the funeral. The man from Guldhøj was probably given the fine vessel on his way to the kingdom of the dead because he was of high status.

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