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Bronze Age wool: provenance and dye investigations of Danish textiles

  • Karin Margarita Frei (a1) (a2), Ulla Mannering (a2) (a3), Ina Vanden Berghe (a4) and Kristian Kristiansen (a5)

Recent analysis of the wool textiles from the famous Egtved oak coffin burial in Denmark indicated that the wool had been obtained from beyond Denmark. Was this an isolated case or evidence of a large-scale wool trade in the Danish Bronze Age? To investigate the broader pattern of wool provenance, textile manufacturing and trade practices, strontium isotope and organic dye analyses were conducted on textiles from a variety of selected burial contexts. Strontium isotope analysis revealed that at least 75 per cent of the Bronze Age wool samples originated outside present-day Denmark. Results also showed no evidence for the use of organic dyes, thereby supporting the hypothesis that no dyestuffs were used in Nordic Bronze Age textile production. These results challenge extant interpretations of Scandinavian Bronze Age textile provenance, and demonstrate the complexity of exchange networks in wool textiles during this period.

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