Treasure hunter finds golden treasure buried by Iron Age chieftain

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An amateur treasure hunter wielding a metal detector has discovered a magnificent golden treasure buried by an Iron Age chieftain in the 6th century in what is now Denmark. The hiding place includes sumptuous jewelry, Roman coins, and an ornament that can represent a Norse god.

Treasure hunter Ole Ginnerup Schytz discovered the Iron Age treasure on land owned by one of his former classmates in the town of Vindelev, earning it the name ‘Treasure of Vindelev ”. Hours after surveying the area with his newly acquired metal detector, Schytz heard the beep indicating a possible treasure. It turned out to be one of the “greatest, richest and most beautiful golden treasures in Danish history,” officials from Vejle museums said in a statement. declaration released on September 9.

The 1,500-year-old treasure contains nearly 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of gold, including large saucer-sized medallions called bracteates. An excavation of the site by archaeologists from the Vejle museums, in collaboration with the National Museum of Denmark, revealed that the gold valuables were buried in a longhouse, which may indicate that Vindelev was a powerful village in the iron age.

Related: Photos: gold, amber and bronze treasures found in an Iron Age tomb

Someone of high rank at the time probably buried the treasure, archaeologists speculated. “Only a member of the cream of society would have been able to collect treasure like the one found here,” Mads Ravn, head of research at Vejle Museums, said in the statement.

The town of Vindelev is about 8 kilometers from Jelling, a cultural hotspot where the first monarchs ruled when they united (or reunited) the country in the 10th century. So far, “there was no indication that a previously unknown warlord or warlord lived here. [in Vindelev], long before the advent of the Kingdom of Denmark in subsequent centuries, ”Ravn added.

However, it seems that the chief who possessed this treasure was successful in amassing wealth and attracting skilled craftsmen who made the treasures.

Bracteate with the face of a man, a horse and runes. (Image credit: Vejle Conservation Center)

The treasure contains several bracteates, as well as Roman coins molded into jewelry using a unique technique never seen before, archaeologists noted. Some of the runic motifs and inscriptions on the gold artifacts likely refer to contemporary rulers, but others may refer to Norse mythology. For example, a bracteate shows a man with braided hair surrounded by images of a horse, a bird and another man, as well as runes (ancient or mysterious letters) which can translate as “houaÊ€” or ” the highest “.

It is possible that “the highest” refers to a ruler, perhaps even the ruler who buried the treasure. But according to later Norse mythology, this term is associated with the deity Odin, archaeologists have said.

The treasury also contains older coins from the Roman Empire, including a heavy gold coin depicting Constantine the Great (272-337 AD), the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity.

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A gold bracelet from the treasure.

A gold jewel from the treasure. (Image credit: Vejle Conservation Center)
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One of the treasure's bracteates.

One of the treasure’s bracteates. (Image credit: Vejle Conservation Center)
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A golden artifact from the treasure.

A golden artifact from the treasure. (Image credit: Vejle Conservation Center)
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The curators carefully placed the contents of the treasure in boxes.

The curators carefully placed the contents of the treasure in boxes. (Image credit: Museums of Vejle)
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A researcher examines one of the saucer-sized bracteates.

A researcher examines one of the saucer-sized bracteates. (Image credit: Museums of Vejle)
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The different golden treasures of the treasure.

The different golden treasures of the treasure. (Image credit: Museums of Vejle)

Volcanic disaster

This leader could have buried the hideout following a large volcanic eruption that rocked Europe in 536 AD, when it sent a cloud of sulfate and ash into the atmosphere that blocked sunlight and lowered temperatures in the northern hemisphere. It is not known where the volcano was located, but its eruption can likely be blamed for the famine, pandemics and socio-economic decline that followed, a 2015 study in the journal Nature find.

In the years following the eruption, many people in Scandinavia buried treasures, perhaps to protect them from enemies or to appease the gods, according to the museums in Vejle. In fact, more than 88 pounds (40 kg) of gold buried during the Iron Age have been found in Denmark, museum officials said.

Vindelev’s treasure will be on display in the Viking exhibition at Vejle Museums, which opens on February 3, 2022. The exhibition, a collaboration with the Moesgaard Museum in Denmark, will delve into the history of Eastern connections and alliances of Harald Bluetooth, and will explain how the first Danish kingdom laid the foundation for the Jelling dynasty.

Originally posted on Live Science.

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