The stunningly well-preserved remains of a 3,500-year-old woman reveal her travels as a high-status woman of her day. (Nat Geo News)
Learn more about the Egtved Girl and her “bog body” cousins with our video.
Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources, including today’s MapMaker Interactive map, in our Teachers’ Toolkit.
- Watch our terrific, short video on Northern Europe’s “bog bodies.” Do you think the Egtved Girl qualifies as a bog body when she wasn’t actually buried in a bog?
- Probably. Like more traditional bog bodies, the Egtved Girl was an “accidental mummy” preserved by the chemistry of the soil. Also like most bog bodies, there is some evidence that ritual human sacrifice may have been responsible for Egtved Girl’s death, the death of the cremated child buried with her, or both.
- What characteristics of Jutland’s wetland soil helped preserve Egtved Girl? Take a look at the Educator version of our “Bog Bodies” video for some help.
- Sphagnum moss interacts with peat (and the oak coffin, in this case) and water to create an acidic, “antiseptic” bog environment that one expert calls “the secret behind the bog bodies.”
- How do scientists know Egtved Girl was such a cosmopolitan traveler?
- They measured strontium present in the remains. According to Nat Geo, “strontium [is] an element that is widely distributed in Earth’s bedrock and accumulates in plant and animal tissues. The variations differ from place to place, creating telltale local signatures that act, says [Karin Frei, an archaeologist at the National Museum of Denmark], ‘like a geological GPS.’”
- How did scientists measure strontium levels in Egtved Girl?
- Soil: Soil from the burial site provided a local baseline by which to judge any variations in the strontium levels in coffin.
- Human remains: Scientists analyzed a sample from one of Egtved Girl’s teeth, three samples from her thumbnail, and four samples from her hair. They also analyzed the cremated remains of the child buried with her.
- Clothes and other textiles: The strontium in Egtved Girls’ blouse, skirt, belt, and slippers were measured. Scientists also analyzed the woolen bundle in which the child’s ashes were wrapped, three samples from the wool-and-oxtail cord buried with the child, the oxhide sheet on which Egtved Girl was lain, and three samples of the blanket that covered her body.
- Why do researchers think Egtved Girl was such a seasoned traveler?
- According to Nat Geo News, “It’s impossible to know exactly why the Egtved Girl traveled, but the Bronze Age was a time of expanding alliances between chiefdoms. Frei thinks the Egtved Girl . . . was likely married off to help secure an alliance and perhaps the trade it would foster.”
- According to Nat Geo News, Jonathan Last, a Bronze Age scholar at Historic England, says “‘I wonder if evidence for back-and-forth movement implies this woman had rather more autonomy?’ Scandinavian women of the era sometimes had political power . . Flemming Kaul, a Bronze Age specialist at the National Museum of Denmark, says, ‘It’s possible that women of the northern Bronze Age were able to make negotiations and establish friendships by themselves, and not necessarily through marriage connections.’”
Nat Geo: Bronze Age Woman Had Surprisingly Modern Life
Nat Geo: Bog Bodies
Nat Geo: Travels of the Egtved Girl map
National Museum of Denmark: The Egtved Girl
(extra credit!) Scientific Reports: Tracing the dynamic life story of a Bronze Age Female and the article’s Supplementary Information
5 thoughts on “The Modern Life of a Bronze Age Woman”
Reblogged this on Brain Popcorn and commented:
I love it when I run across someone who’s assembled an Ideabox-style post for me! National Geographic’s done a brilliant collection of interdisciplinary resources (geography, chemistry, archaeology, etc) surrounding the Egtved Girl (and bog bodies in general!)
I have pretty vivid memories of the Museum of Science in Boston’s Bog Girl exhibit, including a wobbly platform you could walk on that mimicked the consistency of a peat bog, so maybe you’re not as excited about bog bodies as I am, but you should be! Check out Nat Geo’s links below: