Saturday, October 24, 2015
The Egtved Girl
I recall as a young child, my late sister reading to me a story from a magazine or book about the ancient remains of a girl discovered buried in an oak log coffin. I recall from that account of how well preserved she was, and I imagined a beautiful blonde girl looking as though she was merely sleeping. At least that is how I imagined it from the description and at such a young age. I discovered much later that she was actually what is now referred to as the Egtved Girl. The below image shows accurately how she was discovered, with that distinctive circular belt buckle.
The Egtved Girl (c. 1390–1370 BC) was a Nordic Bronze Age girl whose well-preserved remains were discovered outside Egtved, Denmark in 1921. Aged 16–18 at death, she was slim, 160 cm tall (about 5 ft 3 in), had short, blond hair and well-trimmed nails. Her burial has been dated by dendrochronology to 1370 BC. She was discovered together with cremated remains of a child in a barrow approximately 30 metres wide and 4 metres high. Only the girl's hair, brain, teeth, nails and a little of her skin remain preserved.
Her remains have revealed that she was not from Denmark, but from southern Germany. This would mean that she likely was from a Celtic culture. She was 5'3" with dark blonde hair... which would be more in line with an Alpine Celt woman. She apparently was from a powerful family and had a high status, and her age would have easily made her of marriage age at that time.
Apparently, she was assumed to have been sent to Denmark for marriage. This likely was to help cement an alliance between two powerful clans. Recently, I brought up the issue regarding the interactions between the ancient Germans and the Gauls. The Egtved Girl may shed some light on that, and in particular the interaction between Teutons of the north, and Alpine and south German Celts. Sometimes remains of people like this young woman make them like time travelers, with messages for us. Although sadly she died very shortly after arriving, we would never have known of her or her story and artifacts if she wasn't buried in the manner of which she was.
The Egtved Girl was found--through the properties of her remains--to have been originally from the Black Forest. This region was culturally Celtic as that time, or at least a regional variety of the wide-ranging Celtic cultures. It's interesting to ponder what her life was like. What was the regional culture and spirituality of this people of the Black Forest? Did that circular belt buckle, with distinctive Celtic triple-spirals, have any spiritual or cultural significance? Was it a symbol of her social status? Was she considered a princess of a ruling clan, or something a little less lofty? Was she excited about the marriage and its possibilities, or was it forced upon her?