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Group Excursion: Boeslunde
20. September 2019 southwestern Zealand
Together with project director Prof. K. M. Frei, Tales of Bronze Age Women and Tales of Bronze Age People participants went on a group excursion to the region of Boeslunde on Zealand, known for being the part of Denmark with the highest density of gold finds from the Nordic Bronze Age. Dr. Flemming Kaul (who is also part of the project) gave an insider guided visit of Galgebakken and Hashøj, which are among Zealand’s largest grave mounds. Continuous interaction with the landscape is still visible in this dynamic area, as human interaction with Galgebakken continued through both the Bronze and Iron Ages and is well known for the three gold oath rings that were recovered there. The site was additionally used as a gallows until the 1800s (hence the name).
In the afternoon, the visit continued with a stop at Borgbjerg Banke in the village of Boeslunde proper. Previously 54 m high, Borgbjerg Banke offered strategic views over large swathes of the Bronze Age landscape. Oath rings, gold vessels and bowls from the Late Bronze Age (1000-800 BC) have been recovered there. Contemporary interaction with the prehistoric environment still continues at the site as a modern amphitheater has been cut into the banks of the hill.
Thereafter, the team drove by the field at Gammelgård in Neble where the 2015 discovery of the famous gold spirals were made.
Keynote lecture by Prof. K. M. Frei: EAA 2019 Bern
6. September 2019 European Association of Archaeologists Annual Conference in Bern (Switzerland)
Tales of Bronze Age Women and Tales of Bronze Age People project director Prof. Karin M. Frei was invited to the 25th annual conference of the EAA (European Association of Archaeologists) as a keynote speaker. On the afternoon of 6 September, she held her keynote lecture, entitled “The Relevance of Merging Fields: What Archaeometry Can’t Tell” in Bern University’s largest auditorium. In her talk, Prof. Frei discussed the value of archaeometry not merely as a means of answering archaeological questions, but rather as a way of proposing potential ‘why scenarios’ by placing more emphasis on all of the possibilities available from the same data.
International Workshop: Art History, Rituals and the Bronze Age
8-9. October 2018 at The National Museum of Denmark
Organized by Prof. Karin M. Frei, this cross-disciplinary workshop investigated patterns within the connectivity of persons, objects and ideas. It ranged from discussions of the materiality of moving objects to Minoan architecture and from the differentiation between art and ritual to investigations of Renaissance textiles. Discussion included the ancient intent and meanings behind art and artifice in particular. This was related not only to the production and ‘decoration’ of individual objects, but also with regards to rite, ritual and ceremony and human conceptualizations of cosmology.
Invited attendees included Prof. Emerita Claire Farago from the University of Boulder, Colorado, Prof. Emeritus Donald Preziosi from the University of California, Los Angeles and Prof. Paula Hohti from Aalto University, Finland. Local participants from the National Museum of Denmark included project director Karin M. Frei as well as Flemming Kaul, Samantha Reiter, Matthew Walsh and Pernille Ladegaard-Pedersen.
The workshop was followed by an excursion to northwest Zealand to investigate the incorporation and second lives of ancient monuments (as e.g. burial mounds) and artwork (e.g. rock carvings) within a modern Danish context.
Fieldwork: Investigating Ølby Woman
22. May 2018 near Køge
Although the fantastic discovery of the Ølby Woman first came to archaeological attention 138 years ago when it was excavated by archaeologist Sophus Müller, the story of the Ølby Woman actually began in Nordic Bronze Age period II (1500-1300 BC) when she was interred within an oak coffin placed inside one (SB 3) among a series of mounds near Køge, south of Copenhagen. Although preservation of the burial was not as spectacular as some others, the Ølby Woman was beatifully equipped following her demise; among other things, her burial contained a cobalt glass bead imported from Egypt (Varberg, Gratuze et al. 2015), an amber bead, a neck collar, a belt plate, a short sword, four small tutuli and a goodly quantity of bronze tubes which must have adorned a corded skirt (Aner and Kersten 1973)
Recently, the Tales of Bronze Age Women project took the next step in the Ølby Woman saga. The Tales of Bronze Age Women research team from the National Museum of Denmark went into the field, clambering up and down the two remaining mounds at the site of Ølby as well as over and through nearby forests and waterways to collect the necessary plants, water and soil samples needed to create a detailed baseline/isoscape of the area in order to interpret the 87Sr/86Sr results taken from Ølby’s three molar teeth into context. Was she another migrating woman, as we have seen from Egtved (Frei, Mannering et al. 2015) and Skrydstrup (Frei, Villa et al. 2017), or is her signature more local? Stay tuned for the next installment!
9-11. October 2017 at The National Museum of Denmark
The “Tales of Bronze Age Women” Project was delighted to gather together 25 Bronze Age research experts from across the world at the National Museum of Denmark for an intense and stimulating workshop from 9-11 October, 2017. The theme of the workshop was specifically geared towards the interpretation and contextualization of the radical new strontium isotope and aDNA data being produced which imply a high degree of mobility (especially female mobility) during the European Bronze Age. Theoretical attempts were made to characterize the various types of human mobility which seem to have been an important part of the social dynamics during this period. Furthermore, the causes of movement and the knock-on problematization of that area of research were also brought forward. Notable discussions included papers which not only reflected on the breadth and scope of the past few years’ research, but also projected a long-term view of Bronze Age scholarship into the future.
Between the exciting new excavated material coming out of Denmark to the most recent research results from our colleagues abroad, the Tales of Bronze Age Women research project is thrilled with and thankful for the lively and fruitful discussions brought about by the workshop as well as the first germinations of the future collaborations, papers and conference sessions which are being planned as a result. We thank all the participants very much for their contributions and for sharing their thoughts with all of us. As this first meeting brought about many new research questions, and as many new data is on the way, we plan on calling for another such “meeting of the Bronze Age minds” in 2019.