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photographer: Morten PetersenNearly 2,000 small gold spirals from the Bronze Age have recently been unearthed on the Danish island of Boeslunde on Zealand. The archaeologists at the Museum Zealand and the National Museum of Denmark are facing a mystery as they have never seen anything like it before and cannot fathom out their purpose or use.

These spirals of up to three centimeters in length are made of very thin, flattened gold wire and date to the Bronze Age in the period 900-700 BC. Curator Flemming Kaul speculated that the spirals may have been attached to cords which have served as a small fringe on a hat or a parasol or been braided into hair or embroidered on a suit. The fact is that they do not know, but I tend to believe they were part of a priest king’s costume or headwear.

A couple of years ago, two local amateur archaeologists made the great discovery of four heavy gold arm rings, so-called oath rings. This magnificent find prompted the museum archaeologists to carry out a more detailed excavation, in order to find out whether there was more prehistoric gold hidden in the field.photographer: Flemming Kaul

Buried in a fur lined wooden box, the gold spirals were excavated in a field in an area of just a few square meters. It was possible to isolate two main concentrations. In one, they lay in rows or in small bundles of three and four pieces together. In the other, which is of particular interest, the spirals were collected in a pile. The gold spirals were assembled in one big lump, and under them were found black flakes of something that resembles pitch, which was part of the wooden box that contained the spirals.photographer: Morten Petersen

It is thought that Boeslunde was a special sacred place in the Bronze Age where prehistoric people performed their rituals and offered gold to the higher powers. The big heavy oath rings of gold, which can weigh more than half a kilo, are always found in sacrificial contexts. Therefore, they had a very special status, says Flemming Kaul.

Whatever the story is behind these spirals, there can be no doubt that this priceless find is hugely significant and fascinating, allowing us to glimpse a time when being a goldsmith might have been a very different experience!

 

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