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Hammelev – a Maglemose cremation grave from Southern Jutland, Denmark

PD Dr. Berit Valentin Eriksen

Publication project with curator Hans Chr. Andersen, Museum Sønderjylland

In 2001 the archaeology division of Museum Sønderjylland investigated a settlement from the late Roman Iron Age (200–375 AD) situated high up the northern slope of the Hammelev tunnel valley. Quite unexpectedly this excavation also uncovered a richly furnished ochre grave and two shallow pits containing settlement remains from the Maglemosian period (approx 8250 calBC). The Maglemosian ochre grave was removed en bloc to be investigated carefully in the conservation laboratory of the museum. Following this meticulous documentation the completely preserved grave as well as the other find material is now on exhibit in Haderslev Museum.

The ochre grave contained the cremated remains of an adult person – presumably female, who was equipped with a small core axe, 16 small flint blades and flakes, and a delicate, perforated, bone awl. Furthermore, the archaeozoologist was able to identify a few animal bones (dog and wildcat). The cremated bones as well as the non-cremated/unburnt grave goods were covered with a layer of red ochre and wrapped up in a tight bundle before being deposited at the bottom of an approximately 70 cm deep burial pit.

Maglemosian graves are rare – in Denmark and in the rest of Northern Europe. Until recently Mesolithic cremations were also extremely scarce, and accordingly a Maglemosian cremation grave is still a great rarity. The research potential of this unique find is evident, and the ochre grave as well as the contemporary settlement finds and stray finds from the neighbourhood are now being thoroughly investigated and prepared for publication in a co-operative research project involving senior researchers from ZBSA and Museum Sønderjylland. The settlement and stray finds are less spectacular, yet it is worth mentioning that the contemporary Tørning harpoon, which is characteristic of the Maglemosian type of so-called large-barbed harpoons with trapezoid base knob, presumably was found less than a kilometre from the ochre grave. The Tørning harpoon is today on permanent display in the Stone Age exhibition at Schloss Gottorf.

Weitere Informationen zu diesem Projekt im Internet:

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