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11 October 2012
Danish textile history is re-written

A combined team of researchers from the Danish National Research Foundation's Centre for Textile Research, University of Copenhagen (Denmark), University of Bergen (Norway) and the National Museum of Denmark, have been re-writing Denmark's textile history.
     The research centres around the remains of one of Denmark's most powerful ancestors, who died over 2,800 years ago and was buried in an area known as Funen. How do we know he was powerful? By the method of his burial. This person had first been partially cremated and the remains and bones had been wrapped in a fine cloth made from stinging nettles. This may sound strange but Bronze Age weavers were very skilful and nettle cloth achieved levels of quality equal to raw silk. The wrapped remains were then placed inside a bronze container.
     Until now it was believed that the cloth had been made from native Danish nettles but, using a technique which accurately measures the levels of strontium isotopes in the fibres, Karin Margarita Frei, from the Centre for Textile Research, made a very enlightening discovery. She is quoted as saying "The levels indicate that the nettles grew in an area with geologically old bedrock. We can only find rock with similar levels of strontium isotope in Sweden and Norway, as well as in Central Europe".
     It is already known that other Danish bronze artefacts originated in Austria, so the analysis of the nettle cloth would point to Austria as the source of the material as well. Having established and accepted these facts then the question remains as to whether the bronze and material were traded between ancient Austria and Denmark or did the eminent and powerful Dane die in Austria, was 'processed' and the remains return to his homeland? Whichever is the case, it is certain that the history of Bronze age Danish textiles will need to be re-evaluated.

Edited from ScienceDaily (28 September 2012)

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