Egtved Girl

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Treetrunk coffin of the Egtved Girl at the National Museum of Denmark.

The Egtved Girl [ˈɛɡtvɛð] (c. 1390–1370 BC) was a Nordic Bronze Age girl whose well-preserved remains were discovered outside Egtved, Denmark in 1921. Aged 16–18 at death, she was slim, 160 cm tall (about 5 ft 3 in), had short, blond hair and well-trimmed nails.[1] Her burial has been dated by dendrochronology to 1370 BC. She was discovered together with cremated remains of a child in a barrow approximately 30 metres wide and 4 metres high. Only the girl's hair, brain, teeth, nails and a little of her skin remain preserved.[2]


The barrow was excavated in 1921, and an east-western aligned coffin was found. It was transported in sealed condition to the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen, where it was opened and the Egtved Girl discovered.

She was buried fully dressed on an oxhide in the coffin. She wore a loose bodice with sleeves reaching the elbow. She had a bare waist and wore a short string skirt. She had bronze bracelets and a woolen belt with a large disc decorated with spirals and a spike. At her feet were the cremated remains of a child age 5–6. By her head there was a small birch bark box which contained an awl, bronze pins and a hair net.

Before the coffin was closed she was covered with a blanket and an oxhide. Flowering yarrow (indicating a summer burial) and a bucket of beer made of wheat, honey, bog-myrtle and cowberries were placed atop. Her distinctive outfit, which caused a sensation when it was unearthed in the 1920s, is the best preserved example of a style now known to be common in Northern Europe during the Bronze Age. The good preservation of Egtved girl is due to the acidic bog conditions of the soil, which is a common condition of this locale.[3][4]

Scientists examined chemical isotopes from tissues in her teeth, fingernails, hair and clothing. The concentration of strontium in the earth varies with location. These concentrations are reflected in the local water sources from which humans drink, and retained in human tissues. Based on the concentrations of strontium-87 and strontium-86 they found, scientists made informed guesses about the girl's area of origin and where she lived at different times during her life. They suggest that the girl originally lived in the Black Forest region, but married and moved to Denmark. She is believed to have traveled back and forth between the two areas and was buried in Denmark after her death.[5][6][7]


The outfit was reconstructed for the National Museum of Denmark by the Lejre Experimental Centre and is on display there. A reconstructed set of clothes, as well as details of the excavation, are on display in the Egtved Girl's museum at the excavation site.

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  1. ^ Hair fashion of the Bronze age National Museum of Denmark. Retrieved 17.11.2011.
  2. ^ "Prehistoric period (until 1050 AD)". Nationalmuseet.
  3. ^ "Remains of Bronze-Age Cultic Priestess Hold Surprise". LiveScience. May 21, 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-31. The girl's final resting place was first unearthed in 1921, in a large burial mound made of peat bog.
  4. ^ "Bronze Age priestess travelled great distances, scientists say". Christian Science Monitor. May 22, 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-31. The burial mound was made out of acidic peat from a bog
  5. ^ Balter, Michael (May 21, 2015). "Coffin remains tell life story of ancient sun-worshiping priestess". Science. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  6. ^ Ramskov, Jens (21 May 2015). "Det er en tysker: Egtvedpigen stammer fra Schwarzwald". Ingeniøren. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  7. ^ Margarita Frei, Karin; Mannering, Ulla; Kristiansen, Kristian; Allentoft, Morten E.; Wilson, Andrew S.; Skals, Irene; Tridico, Silvana; Louise Nosch, Marie; Willerslev, Eske; Clarke, Leon; Frei, Robert (21 May 2015). "Tracing the dynamic life story of a Bronze Age Female". Scientific Reports. 5: 10431. doi:10.1038/srep10431. PMC 4440039. PMID 25994525.


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Coordinates: 55°37′42″N 9°16′57″E / 55.62833°N 9.28250°E / 55.62833; 9.28250