Dansk bronsålder 2

Danish Bronze Age continued

Normally they tell about Baltic Amber as the Scandinavian product, however I think there was a much greater variety. Our rock art contains many signs of bartering culture with the south beginning from the Minoan culture, i.e. before the decline ca 1400 BC.

Baltic Amber, folding chair, Mycenae, Potinia, Kivik mound, lure, balta, Artemis, Delos, Herodotus, Hyperboreans, Hyperoche, Laodice, Arge, Opis, Apollo

Part 1 | Danish girls at Delos | Bronze Age | male dress 1 | sitemap | home |

Some sword of the northern style is also found in the Aegean world. We do not know if that was normal neither do we know if it was import from the North.

A folding chair for the leader

On the chair from Guldhaug there were enough remains to decide that the seat was made of otter skin. On some seal-ring from Mycenae the goddess of the underworld sit something like this. Nearly exact the same type was found in the grave of Tutankamun where they also found a boomerang wired in birch bark.

This naturally ignites our imagination and makes us speculate in a Nordic high priest visiting Egypt. It is possible since a trip to Egypt could easily be made in the summer. It is only our preconceived ideas that make us think that Europe and Scandinavia were isolated since we do not find big cultural buildings from that time.

The chair is very good handicraft and it is easy to think that it is import. A chair at this time was not for every man. For instance in the general symbolism only the deities, high priests and rulers sit on chairs. This became maybe custom in Scandinavia too.

Seal-ring from Mycenae the goddess of the underworld.

It looks like a folding chair for Potinia. It is the name of the Lady of Labyrinth we meet in the early texts. Above there is the wane half moon and the six-crossed circle is for the planet Venus that symbolised the Queen of Underworld. Who knows what the demons of Underworld look like? Who remember that they symbolise unknown Mights making vegetation come up from the soil? Does it matter? The important thing is that it works.

The chair in symbolism is the legal throne. Nearly to our time only the Lady/Master of House had his own chair. The rest of the people sat on benches. Here on Dal is a cultural border. In the northern part they have the "high seat" for the Master of House. In the southern part they used a "fore-seat" or a little bench for the Lady and Master of House.

In the Kivik mound there are six engraved slabs

Especially the one in left lower corner looks like funeral. The dresses of the figures in the middle and in the lower row on next slab look like demons and they can be compared with the seal. Maybe the Omega-symbol originates from Egyptian symbolism where the soul-birds usually have signs like these in their claws for the KA and BA souls.

They date this mound to ca 1400 BC and maybe it was made for a trader on the Greek trade.

The map shows at the same time the main area of the Nordic bronze culture and the spread of the sword type.

However we have to remember that not all big mounds are excavated and for instance here on Dal we have a few mounds of the Bonze Age type. In Sweden the main part of excavations have been in Skaane, Auland and Gotland. The map shows clearly that the recent borders do not fit our describing. Trade and culture do not know national borders.

The frequency of finds in the rest of Middle Europe is like in the lower part of the picture. There are finds in Italy, Balkan, Greece, Crete and even some in Egypt. We cannot exclude the possibility that the factory was in Denmark. On Northwest Zealand there seem to have been a bronze factory about 1000 BC. For weapon factories it would be more natural to seek for it in the places with known mining.

Bornholm is known for craftsmanship especially in plate work. They think they have learnt this speciality in Greece. Maybe they imported the idea of catching octopus from Greece. There is rock-carvings showing the technique of using bottomless pots.

The lures are mostly found in pair

Lures have been produced during most of the Bronze Age and they are clearly a cultural piece from the Nordic culture. However some are found at Ireland too. In the Kivik mound we see the early bow-type. These advanced masterpieces are from late Bronze Age.

We find them in pair on rock-carvings in Sweden and Norway. On rock-carvings they are usually in pair and to that a pair of the procession axes I call the baltas. See above the Kivik mound upper right corner.

Maybe two lures and two baltas symbolised the four seasons. On some shaving knifes we see string instruments too and they surely also knew about drums, rattle and tambourine. Finds like these show the skilfulness of their handicraft.

The old man from Trindhaug

The finds from Trindhaug show the variety of gifts in an untouched grave. Many of the graves have been robbed and maybe already during Bronze Age, so we do not know for sure how much there originally were in the graves.

There is a sharp difference in style between the dress and the other items. His sword is hardly used. On rock-carvings we see it as a normal male attribute. But are the figures meant as gods, priests, chieftains or something else? The head-gear we see in several graves. That make us ask was his dress the normal or just a dress of an old man?

He used seemingly the "final solution" in shaving with the tweezers. In other graves there have been a shaving knife. Some of them are with decorations telling us about the "Big Naked Girl from the seas and her two servants".

The button and needle seem to have been like ritual items when they were introduced. Some of the rock-carvings show the introduction of the mirror to the Scandinavian culture and maybe some of the boat figures were meant to picture a comb. As always the rich nobility were showing the manners for the people ... it was still so in my childhood. They fostered me like a count since my foster parents have made their practising years among the nobility.

Fashion for the young men

This reconstruction from a grave containing the remains after a young man shows that of course the young followed the fashion. The short skirt was the normal, I believe and the trousers come later with the riders. On the Gundestrup cauldron from ca 300 BC they all wear "tights". The riders were not the first in Scandinavia with trousers.

In the north they used skirt to the knees and under that long trousers ... sorry Norsemen you cannot always be the first. Some rock-carvings indicate that their dress was much like the traditional of today.

In the rock-carvings we see few with clear dressing. Yet, we see the tunic model with a belt and also the long skirt that maybe came from the Levant. The Persian warriors wear skirt to below the knees and under that they wear long trousers.

Southern Scandinavia gives us the physical evidence of the culture while we in the rest of Scandinavia have the rock-carvings telling about the ritual year and organisation of the society. In the details we see the culture and influence from south.

Naturally I write only about Scandinavia but we see from different maps that the Celtic culture developed during Bronze Age in entire Europe above the Alps. The last stage was the expansion to Anatolia. From Ionian philosophers we know that the druids were respected thinkers among philosophers of those days.

I am cautious to not speculate too much in their spiritual life and ideas about the universe. Ordinary people of today do not think much about cosmos, I think. That is something for Channel Discovery, National Geographic and the Faculty of Astronomy.

Ordinary people are normally just interested in making a living the easiest way. Minorities of a population have the imagination both in spirituality and in making money.

Building the big mounds has needed organisation, workforce and a common attitude to society making the manifestations. A big mound made of a few hundred people is of the same class as when they in Egypt with tens of thousands workers that could make pyramids.

Fundamentalistic religions soon make rules in livings that restrict natural living and attitudes. Above I mention the short skirts and the exposed breasts. Much worse is that religion until our time made it a shame to speak about fertility cult and to love nature. There is no proportion in the religious thesis that man is the Master of Nature. A little hurricane or flood and the man Himself is very small.

The civilised urban culture is behind the killing of the manifold. When the bonds to natural fertility are broken none take care of our other half, the nature that should be treated like our beloved and our children. We should take care and nurse it. We citizens are to be ashamed of consuming our earth.

In the parish of my childhood there are one single mound and two in a pair. Is it a couple or is it a male pair. The late ritual finds of golden neck-rings and female necklaces are found as single pieces or in pair. That shows the manifold and that they were practising a little different ritual from place to place.

Maybe these buried women were priestesses and symbols of Mother Earth and the different aspects of nursing and taking care. The male gods were herds and symbols of caring for the cattle.

I am not ashamed when I often in the spring ... especially when I am in love ... I simply feel that the entire universe is flowing through me. It is just for a moment but I feel belonging to the fertility that uses every single bit of the earth to create new life. The ability to resurrection is preserving life on earth.

Here is an old fashion dress from Karelia, however it is in the Nordic style since Bronze Age. The Bronze Age woman wore a dagger, but in later times it was a little knife and soon they got the keys to the house too. At wedding they wore maybe a golden crown. At feast young women wore ribbons with silver amulets around the head

Guder og Grave is the Internet section on the Nationalmuseum in Copenhagen. The texts are in Danish but the pictures give a good overlook since there is around 450 photos.


Four Nordic priestesses in the temple of Artemis at Delos


The History of Herodotus

By Herodotus

Written 440 BC

Translated by George Rawlinson

Book IV 32 - 36

Of the Hyperboreans (northmost of the Nordic) nothing is said either by the Scythians or by any of the other dwellers in these regions, unless it be the Issedonians. But in my opinion, even the Issedonians are silent concerning them; otherwise the Scythians would have repeated their statements, as they do those concerning the one-eyed men. Hesiod, however, mentions them, and Homer also in the Epigoni, if that be really a work of his.

But the persons who have by far the most to say on this subject are the Delians. They declare that certain offerings, packed in wheaten straw, were brought from the country of the Hyperboreans into Scythia, and that the Scythians received them and passed them on to their neighbours upon the west, who continued to pass them on until at last they reached the Adriatic. From hence they were sent southward, and when they came to Greece, were received first of all by the Dodonaeans.

Thence they descended to the Maliac Gulf, from which they were carried across into Euboea, where the people handed them on from city to city, till they came at length to Carystus. The Carystians took them over to Tenos, without stopping at Andros; and the Tenians brought them finally to Delos. Such, according to their own account, was the road by which the offerings reached the Delians.

Two damsels, they say, named Hyperoche and Laodice, brought the first offerings from the Hyperboreans; and with them the Hyperboreans sent five men to keep them from all harm by the way; these are the persons whom the Delians call "Perpherees," and to whom great honours are paid at Delos.

Afterwards the Hyperboreans, when they found that their messengers did not return, thinking it would be a grievous thing always to be liable to lose the envoys they should send, adopted the following plan:- they wrapped their offerings in the wheaten straw, and bearing them to their borders, charged their neighbours to send them forward from one nation to another, which was done accordingly, and in this way the offerings reached Delos.

I myself know of a practice like this, which obtains with the women of Thrace and Paeonia. They in their sacrifices to the queenly Artemis bring wheaten straw always with their offerings. Of my own knowledge I can testify that this is so.

The damsels sent by the Hyperboreans died in Delos; and in their honour all the Delian girls and youths are wont to cut off their hair. The girls, before their marriage-day, cut off a curl, and twining it round a distaff, lay it upon the grave of the strangers. This grave is on the left as one enters the precinct of Artemis, and has an olive-tree growing on it. The youths wind some of their hair round a kind of grass, and, like the girls, place it upon the tomb. Such are the honours paid to these damsels by the Delians.

They add that, once before, there came to Delos by the same road as Hyperoche and Laodice, two other virgins from the Hyperboreans, whose names were Arge and Opis. Hyperoche and Laodice came to bring to Ilithyia the offering which they had laid upon themselves, in acknowledgment of their quick labours; but Arge and Opis came at the same time as the gods of Delos,' and are honoured by the Delians in a different way.

For the Delian women make collections in these maidens' names, and invoke them in the hymn which Olen, a Lycian, composed for them; and the rest of the islanders, and even the Ionians, have been taught by the Delians to do the like. This Olen, who came from Lycia, made the other old hymns also which are sung in Delos.

The Delians add that the ashes from the thigh-bones burnt upon the altar are scattered over the tomb of Opis and Arge. Their tomb lies behind the temple of Artemis, facing the east, near the banqueting-hall of the Ceians. Thus much then, and no more, concerning the Hyperboreans.

As for the tale of Abaris, who is said to have been a Hyperborean, and to have gone with his arrow all round the world without once eating, I shall pass it by in silence. Thus much, however, is clear: if there are Hyperboreans, there must also be Hypernotians.

For my part, I cannot but laugh when I see numbers of persons drawing maps of the world without having any reason to guide them; making, as they do, the ocean-stream to run all round the earth, and the earth itself to be an exact circle, as if described by a pair of compasses, with Europe and Asia just of the same size. The truth in this matter I will now proceed to explain in a very few words, making it clear what the real size of each region is, and what shape should be given them.



Once we are in Greece the goddess is of course Artemis. (Diana is a Roman goddess and not quite the same as Artemis).

Hyberboreans were described as the people living north-most and north of all known people. A rich background must have supplied a suite with the two girls and five followers. A qualified guess is then that they came from the south-east part of Scandinavia. From about 1400 BC? we have the finest big example in the Kivik grave. There we see several elements that must have come from Greece. I guess he or she was a trader bartering with the Aegean sphere. They have also learnt some craftsmanship especially in Greece.

Delos was the birthplace of Apollo, the Sun and Artemis, the New Moon told in the tales we have. According to the sentence: " but Arge and Opis came at the same time as the gods of Delos ..." this should be about 700 BC when the temples to Apollo and Artemis were build. It can have been earlier and naturally these deities are much elder than that. But the tales follows the normal patterns that if not the deities were foreign so were the helpers and servants.

Hyperoche and Laodice came to bring offerings to Ilithyia that was the goddess of birth giving. That tells us that the Greek pantheon was known even in north. Further we can search for elements in the Nordic culture we can associate with southern myths. Artemis was also known as the goddess of wilderness and fields.

We have some place names on the theme "field-ing" but she was known in several names as the new moon. Locks of hair have been found in Danish bogs and we can suggest that was up to the Artemis custom. Or maybe it was to her sister the Morning Star symbolised with a a star was known as Eostre until Christianity brought Maria.

We should not be too serious about the Greek myths. In Scandinavia they usually tell the myth in one way and it was so and so. If you change the story they tell you are wrong. But when a Greek like Kerenyi tells tales he gives variant from the different landscapes in Greece. So be prepared for many variants.

It is obvious that Herodotus tells about at least two paths. The girls came via the path through the Adriatic Seas. To the north it goes to Halstatt and further to Elbe or Oder and southern Denmark. The other trade path was in east via the Russian rivers. We know these from later trade. He gives a good picture of the customs at the time.

Bronze Age