Bronze age oak coffin graves archaeology and dendro dating

17-Dec-2019 16:00

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A log-coffin excavated in the early nineteenth century proved to be well enough preserved in the early twenty-first century for the full armoury of modern scientific investigation to give its occupants and contents new identity, new origins and a new date.

Several hundred burials have been investigated archaeologically, but processes of decomposition usually mean that organic materials, such as textiles, antler, and wood, do not survive the passing of centuries.

On this background the survival of some twenty oak-coffin burials with personalities like the Egtved Girl, the Mulbjerg Man, the Skrydstrup Woman, the Guldhøj Man, and the Trindhøj and Borum Eshøj bodies constitute a veritable miracle.

When the coffin was opened in 1921, the skeleton had deteriorated because of acidic conditions; however, the skin, nails, and hair were preserved.

Several finds of oak coffins even then were severely damaged, and sometimes lost to the world, as the result of unprofessional undertakings.

Information exists concerning 85,000 burial mounds in Denmark, and most of them probably date to the Older Bronze Age (1600–1100 b.c.).

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