Danish Bronze Age dresses

Danish Bronze Age dresses

Darlene asked me about a Greek picture if a netted skirt showed some ritual expression. That is often difficult to say. It may be a deity in ritual garment, it may be a priestess or priest in ritual garment, it may be noble people in special dresses or it is ordinary people. Many of the attributes have original ritual purpose and that may give a clue.

Danish Bronze Age, Egtved girl, lunula, gorget, Borum

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Minoan-Danish fashion

In my younger days it was a little equivoque to publish the picture of the "Goddess with Snakes" from Crete. Much worse it was in the twenties when they found the Egtved Girl in Denmark. The establishment shoved the same Victorian attitude as the Swedish archbishop that condemned short skirts and recommended long trousers for women ... in the later suggestion he was before his time.

On the right picture the Danish archaeologist S. Nancke Krogh and some women have reconstructed the dressing that have been found in seven Danish Bronze Age mounds. Maybe the Minoan goddess inspired them to this picture? However I am sceptic to the exposed upper body. When I came back to Denmark after ten years abroad I freeze like a little dog the first summer ... with clothes on! Even if there were more woods in Denmark during Bronze Age I doubt that the women left their breast bare.

The Minoan figurine shows no doubt a goddess, since we see the snakes and the big cat on her head. The cut of the skirt is the same we see in Mesopotamian seals 2300 to 2000 BC, which is five to seven hundred years earlier than the Minoan style. The exposed breasts are a ritual pose showing the "nursing aspect" of the goddess and it was common even in Middle East and much earlier on Malta.

We see that the Bronze Age Girls were not "allowed" to wear skirt in the twenties. But it was allowed to show the bronze weapons and other "mighty" things. Writing the history have always been about national pride even when it is about a time with no nations. History becomes easily politics and we have to search for the truth. They usually write about the noble class that always carries the culture. Do not think this is objective history we can generalise for all inhabitants at the time. The following pictures are chosen to show the variety of dresses and outfits found in big Danish mounds.

The Danish Bronze Age begins about 1700 BC and last to 500 BC. The big mounds with oak cists from 1500 to 1300 BC has given us valuable finds belonging to the upper class. Earlier archaeologists wanted to see big chieftains enslaving people to run their farms and business. In my younger days they set the Age of Mounds to 1300 - 1100 BC, but as we see dating have been very relative in archaeology. Scandinavia above Denmark and Skaane is often 100 to 200 years later in culture. In inland Scandinavia we see a period with agriculture about 1300 to 1100 BC.

My doubts build on all facts we have. From later times we know about the Scandinavian society that they lived in a Ritual Age until about 500 AD. The swords of the buried men are often unused and their clothes show more likely a herd than a warrior. It seems the mounds are to few to have been common fashion among people.

My conclusion can only be that they buried their priests and priestesses with their insignia and what they owned in life. In a way they buried time or an epoch. Since this age was manifold we have not a single explanation to anything.

The girl from Egtved on Nationalmuseum Copenhagen. She was a young woman age 20 - 25 in short shirt and skirt. The Egtved Girl got summer flowers in her grave.


Young woman from Aulby

Another is the woman from Aulby with her things. The small bronze pipes have been in her skirt. Her collar maybe for ritual purposes and out of the same kind as the lunula and the gorget being the special necklace of Inanna and it was symbolising the sowing field.

It seems that the short skirt was used by young women or in the summer. The Egtved Girl got summer flowers in her grave. The difference between married and unmarried seem to have been that the married cut her hair on the wedding. We know this from Greek and Indian rituals too. One tall girl 170 cm had her hair in artistic upset and it is 60 centimetres long. A hairnet and a ribbon keep it all in place ... See below Nordic priestesses at the Isle of Artemis.

Priestesses from palaces of Crete and their hairstyle


This is from an adult woman in Borum

Her dress maybe was the normal everyday wear. Some other dresses are in the sari style. In the picture we see no colours, which they surely used. Neither do we see the fine handicraft in some waistband, but we can recognise it in the ribbon and the hairnet.

The shield and the dagger are naturally symbolic and maybe a part of the image of some goddess. I call it the Isis-dagger since we see it in connection with Isis the millennium before Bronze Age. Later the dagger became a little knife in the woman dress in entire Scandinavia. We see the skilful handicraft in the other items and with the metals needles; pins and buckles became normal in the dress.

These rock-carvings are from Tegneby Bohuslaen. It is easy to see the button and maybe a needle, but is the connected circles a breast-buckle or brassiere?


Inventions of ritual needles and brassiere.


Some buckle of this kind is found also in Greece for instance in Lefkandi and they think it is unusual for Greece