Friday, August 7, 2015

Egtved Girl: The Life Story Of A Bronze Age Female

A detailed analysis of the remains of a high-status Danish Bronze Age female, known as the Egtved Girl, has revealed information about her movements, what she ate, and where her clothes came from.

The Egtved Girl, a 16–18 year old female, was discovered in the Danish village of Egtved in an oak coffin, calculated to have been buried around 3,400 years ago. 

Her well-preserved hair, teeth, nails and clothes have enabled a team of researchers to trace the life story of this iconic female. It seems that the Egtved Girl originated from a place outside present-day Denmark and traveed back and forth over large distances during last two years of her life, according to a new paper in Scientific Reports this week, which offers insights into the movements of high-status European Bronze Age individuals. 

Ratios of different strontium isotopes in the tooth enamel do not match up with characteristic rages in Denmark, indicating to Karin M Frei and colleagues (DOI: 10.1038/srep10431) that she did not originate from Denmark. Isotopic analysis of the wool used to make her clothes indicates that it was gathered from outside present-day Denmark. 

The authors suggest that the girl and her garments may have originated from the Black Forest in south-western Germany, although they cannot rule out other parts of Europe.

 Her 23-cm long hair provides a record of her movements during at least the last 23 months of her life. Isotope signatures in the most recent hair segment (grown in the last 4-6 months of her life) and in her fingernails imply that she traveled from a place distant to Egtved shortly before to her death. Further analysis of her hair shows that she had a varied terrestrial diet with intervals of reduced protein intake.

Science 2.0. 2015. “Egtved Girl: The Life Story Of A Bronze Age Female”. Science 2.0. Posted: May 21, 2015. Available online:

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