For at least the last week our weather app has said this will be the wettest day, so we declared it Museum Day, just in case the app was right.
So, after breakfast at the Lagkagehuset on Torvegade in Christianshavn – where we ate yesterday, and they remembered me as the English person with the skulls – we walked to the National Museum of Denmark. And then around the block because it wasn’t open yet. A, poor man, was following me, and I had one goal: Danish Pre-history (which is to say Danish history before anyone wrote it in words).
I have, therefore, A Lot of pictures. Well over 100, in fact. Here are some of the highlights…
The skeleton of an elk that died in a bog nearly 9000 years ago.Probably not of natural causes: the small bone point was amongst the bones, the harpoon and shafts nearby.
A fragment of fish spear stll bound to its shaft with BAST FIBRES(!! my emphasis), 8000 years ago.
The skull of Porsmose man, bone arrow through his face and another through his sternum. It was striking (ha, not funny) how many weapons were on display in the Prehistory section. Admittedly they survive when other organics might not, but still: imbalance.)
This is so amazing I have trouble finding the words to explain its significance: an ard. The first, the earliest plough. Probably pulled by one human, guided by another. An agricultural revolution before the concept existed.
Crops and domesticated animals: a strainer for making cheese.
And then the main event, at least for me. The tour groups clustered around Egtved Girland her reconstructed garments
but I looked into the hollows where Skrydstrup Woman‘s eyes should be, and was lost.
There were other graves at Skrydstrup, with textiles, but as I looked at her I felt she could be looking back. Are we answers to her unasked questions?
Then I learned new things about sun symbols,and something I’d never heard about before, the Bronze Age concept of the Journey of the Sun across the sky. Their webpage has the diagram, but not the explanation: the sun travels around and across the flat earth. At sunrise a Fish pulls the sun up over the horizon from the Night Ship to the Morning Ship, and is then eaten by a Bird. At noon the Sun Horse takes the sun from the ship -incidentally the stylised ‘s’ of the sun horse(s) looks exactly like other assumed sun symbols in the iconography of Near East rugs and embroidery! In the afternoon the Sun Horse delivers the sun to the deck of the Afternoon Ship. In the evening the Snake passes the extinguished sun to the night ship.Part of the totally engrossing Journey of the Sun display.
Ninth-century BC blankets found with the body of a woman in a bog in Jutland. Think of the woman, but also note that one blanket appears to be thoroughly fulled.Me leaving noseprints on the glass as I peer at said blankets.
As we walked through pre-history I counted spindle whorls and other mentions of ‘women’s work’. It wasn’t difficult: no discussion of spinning, weaving, cooking. (As opposed to weaponry, battles, injuries.) One Bronze Age spindle whorl (shale) and about 5 Viking age (pottery). Ninth-century AD gravegoods from women’s graves in Jutland, including tortoise (shaped like) brooches and spindle whorls.
Finally the display of Viking Age domestic finds from Trelleborg included spindles and loom weights.Huh. No wonder the ‘Viking!’ exhibition at the BM was all about shiny and killing people: it was telling the same story.
But Skrydstrup Woman has forgotten more than we will ever know.
And then we went to the Glyptotek followed by Groms pizza and wine and ice cream. It’s raining, but tomorrow should be dry.Tomorrow is Roskilde and the Viking Ship Museum.