Stinging Nettles Suggest Long-Distance Bronze Age Trade

5 October, 2012 at 07:24 | Posted in Culture, Science, Society | Leave a comment
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By Cassie Ryan
Epoch Times Staff

Nettle cloth found at a Danish burial mound probably originated from the Austrian Alps, indicating trade connections existed between these two areas around 800 B.C.

Located on the island of Funen, the Lusehøj barrow is about 36 meters in diameter and 6 meters high, and is the richest known Bronze Age grave in Denmark.

A bronze urn found at the site contains the bones of a wealthy man who died around 2,800 years ago. His remains were wrapped in stinging nettle cloth.

But the textile was not made from local fibers, according to new international research using strontium isotope levels to determine where the plants grew.

“The levels indicate that the nettles grew in an area with geologically old bedrock,” said study co-author Karin Margarita Frei at the University of Copenhagen in a press release.

“We can only find rock with similar levels of strontium isotope in Sweden and Norway as well as in Central Europe.”

The bronze urn from Lusehøj. (National Museum of Denmark)

The bronze container is probably from the Kärnten-Steiermark region in Austria, and tar found in the grave could also be from that area.

“Bronze Age Danes got their bronze from Central Europe, and imports were controlled by rich and powerful men,” said textile archaeologist Ulla Mannering at the National Museum of Denmark in the release. “We can imagine how a bronze importer from Funen in Denmark died on a business trip to Austria.”

“His bones were wrapped in an Austrian nettle cloth and placed in a stately urn that his travel companions transported back to Denmark.”

Although flax was cultivated on a large scale in Central Europe at that time, fabric made from wild nettles were still in demand because its quality was comparable to raw silk.

“Until recently the Lusehøj nettle cloth was the oldest nettle cloth we knew, and the only Bronze Age nettle cloth, but with our new findings we actually have no evidence that nettle textiles were produced in Denmark at all during the Bronze Age,” Mannering concluded.

The research was published online in Scientific Reports on Sept. 28.

via Stinging Nettles Suggest Long-Distance Bronze Age Trade | Inspiring Discoveries | Science | Epoch Times

Related Articles: Surprisingly Sophisticated Palaeolithic Pottery Found in Europe


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