lunes, 9 de diciembre de 2013

Gold of the Fimbulwinter (Denmark)

 
Morten Kris Nielsen, a metal detectorist from Denmark was investigating a field near Spentrup north of Randers in September 2013 when he uncovered a rare gold treasure in the shape of a fibula brooch and two bird pendants. His first stop was the archaeologist Benita Clemmensen at the Jutland Museum, knowing that he may have stumbled across something of importance.
A rich deposit
Nielsen was correct in his thinking as subsequent excavation carried out by museum archaeologists found several pendants, bringing the total to 10 as well as a gold ring. They also retrieved another piece of the fibula, which had once held a woman’s cloak together but had been deposited deliberately in a bog as a sacrifice to the gods around the early 500s AD.
Benita Clemmensen explained that the ‘sensational‘ gold find was, “…[something] we have not experienced before in Jutland, so this is something unique”.
She explained that it is not the gold that is spectacular, but rather the impressive craftsmanship and the tale the artefacts can tell. The fibula is made ​​of gold sheet around a core of clay which also contains red semi-precious stones and the remains of a yellow-green solid, which may be glass.
A link to ancient belief
The National Museum’s treasure expert, archaeologist Peter Vang Petersen, was impressed when he saw pictures of the artefacts.
“We know of only a handful of these large gold fibulae. They are made in Denmark with gold from the Roman Empire and the semi-precious stones and glass are  from Scandinavia and Central Europe“, he said.
Six of the small pendants are of stylized bird heads which mirrors the gold fibula brooch. Archaeologists agree that the birds represented are ravens, linked to the god Odin in Norse mythology. Odin and his ravens, Hugin and Munin are often associated with death and war and brought news of what was happening in the world of men.
Fimbulwinter
Why would someone sacrifice such a rich offering at the edge of a wetland bog?  The Danish archaeologists think that it may have been a reaction to severe and unusual climatic conditions at the time and suggest that the offering was made by someone who was a fearful of Ragnarök.
Peter Vang Petersen explains that gold was the gods preferred metal, and very large amounts were sacrificed at this time in the region and is perhaps related to an event in the years AD 535/6, when the sun darkened and winter was never ending.
This (un)natural phenomenon is found in written sources both in Europe and in China and was probably due to ash particles from a large volcanic eruption. In the North people must have believed that the so-called Fimbulwinter of legend  had at last materialised.
Brothers will kill brothers
Fimbulwinter is the harsh winter that precedes the end of the world called Ragnarök. Fimbulwinter consists of three successive winters where snow comes in from all directions without any intervening summer. During this time innumerable wars will be fought and ties of blood will no longer be respected; next-of-kin will lie together and brothers will kill brothers.
On display
The Gold Treasure of the Church Mosegård is presently being exhibited at the Museum of Jutland, Kulturhuset in Randers until 19 December 2013, before it is handed over to the National Museum, where it will be incorporated into a special exhibition ” Treasure Trove ” which opens in late January 2014.

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