Saturday, May 20, 2017

Jimson Weed/ Pigæble

Datura stramonium


Jimson weed is a 30-100 cm tall herb, in Denmark growing wild close to building sites. The whole plant is very poisonous, and it has a very unpleasant and nauseating smell if broken or damaged.


In England it is known by the common names Jimson weed or Devil's snare. Other common names for D. stramonium include thornapple and moon flower, others include hell's bells, devil’s trumpet, devil’s weed, Jamestown weed, stinkweed, locoweed, pricklyburr, and devil’s cucumber. It is a plant in the nightshade family.


Jimson weed is a heavily growing annual plant with a broad bushy growth. the stems are lightgreen to violet. The leaves are egg-shaped with unregular teeth along the edge. The upper surface is light green, the underside a little lighter. The flowers are spectular, they are trumpet shaped and very large, white or light violet. They open in the evening, but close later in the night. The seeds are egg-shaped, spiked and the size of  a walnuts When ripe they open in four chambers, each with numerous black seeds. The root system is well developed and widely branched.


The plant grow wild in large areas with inland dunes which are dominated by bushy oaks and tall grass, it is found in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. Here it grows together with fx: sunflower,  blue wild indigo, calico aster, butterfly weed, switchgrass, hoary mugwort etc. The plant is native to North America, but was spread to the Old World early. It was scientifically described and named by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1753, although it had been described a century earlier by botanists such as Nicholas Culpeper. Today, it grows wild in all the world's warm and moderate regions, where it is found along roadsides and at dung-rich livestock enclosures. In Europe, it is found as a weed on wastelands and in garbage dumps. In Denmark it is found here and there on dumps and close to building sites. Its seeds can lie dormant underground for years and germinate when the soil is disturbed.

Medicine/Folk Medicine :
Datura stramonium has been used in traditional medicine to relieve asthma symptoms and as an analgesic during surgery or bonesetting. It is also a powerful hallucinogen and deliriant, which is used entheogenically for the intense visions it produces. However, the tropane alkaloids responsible for both the medicinal and hallucinogenic properties are fatally toxic in only slightly higher amounts than the medicinal dosage, and careless use often results in hospitalizations and deaths.


The substance hyoscamin can be produced chemically and is used by fx dentists and for eye surgery.
(Danske Klosterurter).


Jimson weed was used as a hallucinogen by the praerie people. Some have tried it in modern times, but the hallucinogene dose is only a little smaller than the deadly dose

The gipsies used the jimsonweed in flying balms like the witches. Until 1957 was sold Jimson weed- leaves = pigæble blade(in DK), rolled as cigars for asthma patients. When they had breathing difficulties they had to inhale the smoke in order to clear the respiratories. 

 Superstition.
If you had jimsonweed-seeds in your pocket, you could fly invisible after a witch and see who she collected on her road to Bloksbjerg. 

Deliriants such as henbane, mandrake and Jimson weed are featured in many stories in European mythology.

Source: Wikipedia, Danske klosterurter, Anemette Olesen, Aschehoug 2001. 
photos from wikipedia
.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Magic Perfume

Perfume was produced and used since antiquity in Mesopotamia and Egypt. The process was developed and refined by the Romans and the Arabs. Archaeologs found in 2003 what probably is the oldest perfume in Pyrgos at Cypres. The word perfume derives from the Latin perfumare, meaning "to smoke through".

The perfumes date back more than 4,000 years. They were discovered in an ancient perfumery, a 4,000-square-meter (43,000 sq ft) factory housing at least 60 stills, mixing bowls, funnels, and perfume bottles. In ancient times people used herbs and spices, such as almond, coriander, myrtle, conifer resin and bergamot as well as flowers.



In the 9th century the Arab chemist Al-Kindi (Alkindus) wrote the Book of the Chemistry of Perfume and Distillations, which contained more than a hundred recipes for fragrant oils, salves, aromatic waters, and substitutes or imitations of costly drugs. The Persian chemist Ibn Sina (also known as  Avicenna) introduced the process of extracting oils from flowers by means of  distillation, the procedure most commonly used today. He first experimented with the rose.  Rose water was delicate, and immediately became popular. The art of perfumery was known in western Europe from 1221, taking into account the monks' recipes of Santa Maria delle Vigne or Santa Maria Novella of Florence, Italy. The first modern perfume was a mixture of scent oils and alcohol. It was produced in 1370 in Hungary and was called Hungarian water. Modern perfumery began in the late 19th century with the commercial synthesis of aroma compounds  such as vanillin or coumarin.



The art of perfumery prospered in Renaissance Italy, and in the 16th century the personal perfumer to Catherine de Medici (1519–1589), Rene the Florentine (Renato il fiorentino), took Italian refinements to France. His laboratory was connected with her apartments by a secret passageway, so that no formulae could be stolen en route. Thanks to Rene, France quickly became one of the European centers of perfume and  cosmetics manufacture. Cultivation of flowers for their perfume essence, which had begun in the 14th century, grew into a major industry in the south of France
Between the 16th and 17th centuries, perfumes were used primarily by the wealthy to mask body odors,  resulting from infrequent bathing. Partly due to this patronage, the perfume industry developed.  In 1693, Italian barber Giovanni Paolo Feminis created a perfume water called Aqua Admirabilis, today best known as eau de cologne.

By the 18th century the Grasse region of France, Sicily, and Calabria (in Italy) were growing aromatic plants to provide the growing perfume industry with raw materials. Even today, Italy and France remain the center of European perfume design and trade.

The first fragrance labeled a "parfum" extract with a high concentration of aromatic compounds was Guerlain's Jicky in 1889. The conventional application of pure perfume (parfum extrait) in Western cultures is at pulse points, such as behind the ears, the nape of the neck, and the insides of wrists, elbows and knees, so that the pulse point will warm the perfume and release fragrance continuously. According to perfumer Sophia Grojsman behind the knees is the ideal point to apply perfume in order that the scent may rise. The modern perfume industry encourages the practice of layering fragrance so that it is released in different intensities depending upon the time of the day. Lightly scented products such as bath oil, shower gel, and body lotion are recommended for the morning; eau de toilette is suggested for the afternoon; and perfume applied to the pulse points for evening. Cologne fragrance is released rapidly, lasting around 2 hours. Eau de toilette lasts from 2 to 4 hours, while perfume may last up to six hoursA variety of factors can influence how fragrance interacts with the wearer's own physiology and affect the perception of the fragrance. Diet is one factor, as eating spicy and fatty foods can increase the intensity of a fragrance. The use of medications can also impact the character of a fragrance. The relative dryness of the wearer's skin is important, since dry skin will not hold fragrance as long as skin with more oil.


JICKY is a perfume by the House of Guerlain. Introduced in 1889, it is the oldest continuously-produced perfume in the world. Jicky was one of the first perfumes created with the addition of synthetic materials , and was the first abstract perfume in history, meaning it is not based on a single note. Its perfume notes include: spice,lemon, lavender, wood and vanilla. Its stopper is shaped like a champagne cork. According to legend, it was named after a girl Aimé Guerlain had a crush on when he was a student in England.

 Joy is a perfume created for Parisian couturier Jean Patou by perfumer Henri Almeras in 1929 . It is considered to be one of the greatest fragrances created and is a landmark example of the floral genre in perfumery. Joy was created as a reaction to the 1929 Wall Street Crash, which had diminished the fortunes of Jean Patou's wealthy American clientele. Despite its elevated price and the depressed economic environment, Joy became a success and has remained Jean Patou's most famous fragrance. In 2002, the House of Jean Patou created Enjoy, a contemporary take on Joy meant for younger women.Joy is composed primarily of a combination of jasmine and rose; 10,000 jasmine flowers and 28 dozen roses are required to create 30ml of the parfum, contributing to its high retail price. Joy also contains other flowers such as yland ylang, michelia and tuberose. Given its many ingredients, Joy does not smell like a specific flower. The original bottle, designed by French architect and artisan Louis Süe, was designed to have a simple, classical feel ."Joy" was voted "Scent of the Century" by the public at the Fragrance Foundation FiFi awards in 2000, beating its rival "Chanel No 5". Joy is preserved in its original 1930 formulation in the archives of the Osmothéque donated to the collection by Jean Kerléo  (formerly head perfumer at Jean Patou) .

Chanel No. 5 is the first perfume launched by French couturier Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel. The chemical formula for the fragrance was compounded by French-Russian chemist and perfumer Ernest Beaux. Traditionally, fragrance worn by women had adhered to two basic categories: respectable women favored the pure essence of a single garden flower, and sexually provocative perfumes heavy with animal musk or jasmine were associated with women of the demi-monde, prostitutes or courtesans. Chanel felt the time was right for the debut of a scent that would epitomize the flapper and would speak to the liberated spirit of the 1920Chanel envisioned a design that would be an antidote for the precious fussiness of the crystal fragrance bottles then in fashion, popularized by Lalique and Baccarat. Her bottle would be "pure transparency ...an invisible bottle." It is generally considered that the bottle design was inspired by the rectangular beveled lines of the Charvet toiletry bottles, which, outfitted in a leather traveling case, were favored by her lover, Arthur Boy Capel. Some say it was the Whiskey decanter he used that she admired and wished to reproduce in "exquisite, expensive, delicate glass."The first bottle produced in 1919, differed from the Chanel No. 5 bottle known today. The original container had small, delicate, rounded shoulders and was sold only in Chanel boutiques to select clients. In 1924, when "Parfums Chanel" incorporated, the glass proved too thin to sustain shipping and distribution. This is the point in time when the only significant design change took place. The bottle was modified with square, faceted corneThe "pocket flacon" devised to be carried in the purse was introduced in 1934. The price point and container size were developed to appeal to a broader customer base. It represented an aspirational purchase, to appease the desire for a taste of exclusivity in those who found the cost of the larger bottle prohibitive.The bottle, over decades, has itself become an identifiable cultural artifact, so much so that Andy Warhol chose to commemorate its iconic status in the mid-1980s with his pop-art, silk-screen, Ads: Chanel

At the end of World War II, Coco Chanel's wartime collaboration with the enemy during wartime menaced her with the exposure of her treasonous activities. In an attempt at damage control, she placed a sign in the window of her rue Cambon boutique, announcing that free bottles of Chanel No. 5 were available to American GIs. Soldiers waited in long lines to take a bottle of Paris luxe back home, and "would have been outraged if the French police had touched a hair on her head".In the 1950s the glamour of Chanel No. 5 was reignited by the celebrity of Marilyn Monroe. Monroe's unsolicited endorsement of the fragrance provided invaluable publicity. In a 1954 interview, when asked what she wore to bed, the movie star provocatively responded: "Chanel No. 5."In the 1960s the glossy fashion magazines such as Vogue and Bazaar presented Chanel No. 5 as a required accessory to every woman's femininity. Print advertising for Chanel No. 5 was staid and conservative in both visuals and text, eschewing the energy and quirky aesthetic of the burgeoning youth culture. Two catch phrases alternated as ad copy: "Every woman alive wants Chanel No. 5" and "Every woman alive loves Chanel No. 5."During the 1950s the ads had diminished the allure of Chanel No. 5, identifying it with a scent for sweet, proper co-eds whose style bibles were teenage fashion magazines. In the 1970s the brand name needed revitalization. For the first time in and its long history it ran the risk of being labeled as mass market and passé. The fragrance was removed from drug stores and similar outlets. Outside advertising agencies were dropped. The remaking was re-imagined by Jacques Helleu, the artistic director for "Parfums Chanel." Helleu chose French actress Catherine Deneuve for the new face of Chanel.In the 1990s, more money was reportedly spent advertising Chanel No. 5 than was spent for the promotion of any other fragrance brand. Carole Bouquet was the face of Chanel No. 5 during this decade. It has been estimated, as of 2011, that between $20 to $25 million is spent annually on marketing for Chanel No. 5.

In 2003, actress Nicole Kidman was enlisted to represent the fragrance. Film director Baz Luhrmann, brought in to conceive and direct a new advertising campaign featuring her, described his concept for what he titled No 5 The Film as "a two-minute trailer ... for a film that has actually never been made, not about Chanel No. 5 but Chanel No. 5 is the touchstone". The eventual commercial, produced in two-minute and 30-second versions, cost 18 million English pounds, with Kidman paid US$3.7 million for her workIn May 2012, the company announced that Brad Pitt would be the first male to advertise Chanel No. 5.In 2013 Chanel ran an advertising campaign using a recorded interview with Marilyn Monroe in which she is asked about her use of Chanel No. 5 fragrance. It featured Ed Feingersh's photograph of the actress splashing herself with a bottle of the perfume.In October 2014, Luhrmann again collaborated with Chanel, creating a second advertising campaign for No. 5, this time starring Gisele Bündchen and Michiel Huisman. Throughout the film, singer Lo-Fang performs his slower romantic rendition of "You're the one that I want".

 Shalimar is a women's fragrance originally created by Jacques Guerlain in 1921, as a classic soft amber (Oriental) parfum, and currently produced by Guerlain. Popular for 90 years, Shalimarwas created in 1921, and re-released in 1925, and launched at the Decorative Arts Exhibition as an antidote to The Great Depression. Jacques Guerlain was inspired by Mumtaz Mahal, the woman for whom the Taj Mahal was built. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan's  love for Mumtaz Mahal, his favourite wife, was so great that he built her the Garden of Shalimar in Lahore, Pakistan (and the Taj Mahal). Shalimar itself is currently produced in Shalimar Extract, Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Cologne, and Fleur de Shalimar Edition. Guerlain also markets Shalimar Parfum Initial, which has a different formula, color and fragrance than Shalimar. Shalimar is preserved in its original 1925 formulation in the archives of the Osmotheque, donated by Jean-Paul Guerlain. The fragrance can be described as vanilla, powdery and sweet. The fragrance contains bergamot, lemon, jasmine, rose, iris incense, opopanax, tonka bean  and vanilla. It is considered to be an Oriental perfume; spicy perfumes were popular during Shalimar's conception. The top note of the fragrance is bergamot. The middle notes are iris and rose. The base note is vanilla.  Shalimar is mentioned in the songs "Forty Shades of Green by Johnny Cash and "Madame George" by Van Morrison.  " In "House Arrest" (Season 2 Episode 11) of "The Sopranos" HBO,  Junior Soprano mentions to his doctor he sent a bottle to a medical assistant (Tracy) who had checked on him at his home after having a stent placed. In the 1989 Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor movie, "See No Evil, Hear No Evil", Richard Pryor's blind character identifies the villainess played by Joan Severance by her by her "beautiful smell", "Shalimar". In the 1971 thriller The Mephisto Waltz   Shalimar is the perfume favored by Jacqueline Bisset's character named Paula. At the film's conclusion when Paula's soul has been transferred in the body of Roxanne (Barbara Parkins) the character of Duncan Ely who is unaware of the change remarks to Roxanne, "isn't that the perfume worn by our late little housewife ?" In the movie "The Four Seasons", directed and starring Alan Alda. Shalimar is given as a gift. Shalimar is mentioned during the NCIS S11 E12. Ducky is performing an autopsy and asks Gibbs to take a whiff of the deceased. He tells him that the smell is expensive. 


Rive Gauche is a women's perfume launched by Yves Saint Laurent in 1971. The fragrance was composed in 1969 by perfumers Jacques Polge and Michael Hy at Roure. It was reformulated by Daniela Andrier and Jacques Hy at Givaudan in 2003. The all-aluminium silver and cobalt blue striped bottle was designed by Pierre Dinnand. The perfume was named after Yves Saint Laurent's   newly opened boutique in Saint-germain-des- Près, the first ready-to-wear store opened by a couturier. Perfume critic Luca Turin considered Rive Gauche as the "best floral aldehydic of all time". It is a classic aldehyde with a floral heart and woody base notes.

Opium is an Oriental-spicy perfume created for fashion brand Yves Saint Laurent (YSL), first marketed in 1977. Its top notes are a mixture of fruit and spices, with mandarin orange, plum, clove, coriander and pepper, as well as bay leaf. Its floral middle notes consist predominantly jasmine, rose and Lily of the Valley, in addition to carnation, cinnamon, peach and orris root. It is underlined by the sweet woody base note containing sandalwood, cedarwood, myrrh, opopanax, labdanum, benzoin and castoreum in addition to amber, incense, musk, patchouli, tolu and yetiver.

Opium caused a stir with its controversial name and brought accusations that brand designer Yves Saint Laurent was condoning drug use. In the United States, a group of Chinese Americans demanded a change of the name and a public apology from Saint Laurent for "his insensitivity to Chinese history and Chinese American concerns." They formed a committee called the American Coalition Against Opium and Drug Abuse, which expressed outrage at the choice of a name representing "a menace that destroyed many lives in China." But such controversies rather helped the perfume to be well-publicized, which soon became a best-selling scent. For its launch party in 1977, a tall ship Peking was rented from the South Street Sea Museum in New York's East Harbor, and writer Truman Capote sat at the helm of the ship at the party. The ship was draped with banners of gold, red, and purple, and the Oriental theme was displayed with a 1,000-pound (450 kg) bronze statue of the Buddha, decorated with white cattleya orchids. YSL carried the Oriental theme into its packaging design as well—the red plastic container holding the perfume's glass vial, designed by Pierre Dinand, was inspired by inro, the small Japanese lacquered cases that were worn under komonos and held perfumes, herbs and medicines.


Forbidden fruit from the house of Dior, Poison is the revolutionary fragrance that became a legend since it has been launched in 1985. An unrivalled alchemy; spicy, fruity, woody fragrance of enigmatic profoundness that mesmerizes the senses…forever. Top notes include coriander, wildberries, orange honey, tuberose are at perfume’s heart, while base note features opopanar. This dark, mysterious and elegant perfume, which won a FiFi award in 1987, was created by edouard flechier. In 2006, the house of Dior released the Poison Amulets. These are limited edition 15 ml purse sprays available in  Poison, Pure Poison, Tendre Poison and Hypnotic Poison; each comes with 2 refills and is packaged in a satin pouch with funnel. The bottles are very elegant while following the style and colors of the originals.


Tresor Perfume by Lancome is considered to be a modern classic by many fragrance critics and was composed by master perfumer Sophia Grojsman in 1990 . Juicy peach and ripe apricot adds dimension to a rose in full bloom tinged with amber. Softly rounded with no hard edges, this is a refined and romantic fragrance for women. Notes include apricot blossom, rose, lilac, iris, peach, amber, sandalwood, musk, and vanilla. All products are original, authentic name brands. Tresor is a treasure among perfume creations (‘tresor’ in French means ‘treasure’). It is one of the best-selling and most popular perfumes in the world.  



This is the first perfume of Cacharel, which was created in 1978. Anais Anais is a ultra-feminine fresh, rich and romantic bouquet of flowers. Transparent orange blossom with heady hyacinth open the composition. The intensive floral heart blends sweet rose, delicate white lily and magical jasmine. The base is composed of comforting amber, warm sandalwood with a tender touch of misterious incense. The successful Anaïs Anaïs was launched in 1978. It was followed by Cacharel pour l'Homme, Loulou, Eden, Loulou Blue, Eau d'Eden, Noa, Nemo, Gloria, Amor Amor, Amor Amor Eau Fraiche, Noa Fleur, Noa Perle, Promesse and Amor pour homme. The latest perfume to be launched is "Liberté", an orange chypre with fresh citrous top notes inspired by a traditional French cake called 'chamonix' and woody heart and base notes with patchouli. The person representing Liberté in ad campaigns is Brazilian born model, Gisele Bündchen, who is also the new face for the brand Cacharel Parfums, following Kate Moss who modeled for Anaïs Anaïs and Laetitia Casta for Promesse.

 






Friday, April 28, 2017

The Skrydstrupgirl /Skrydstruppigen



The Skrydstrupgirl at exhibition, National Museum.
 
 
After being buried in her coffin completely undisturbed in her grave hill for more than 3000 years the grave with the Skrydstrupgirl was found and opened in 1935.
 
The expectations were not great, the hill had been digged earlier, but after some days work it was obvious that this was one of Denmark's most important grave finds from Bronze Age.
 



The Skrydstrupgirl, National Museum.
Skrydstruppigen is a famous Danish grave find from Bronze Age. The Skrydstrupgirl was excavated in 1935 at the village Skrydstrup in South Jutland. She lived in ab. 1300 before our time. She was found in a gravehill by the "Hærvejen" 1 km southwest of the town Vojens. Her oakcoffin was placed upon a bed of stones and covered by a turf hill, measuring 13 meter diameter and 1,75 meter high. Two male persons were in similar coffins at the edge of the gravehill. All was covered by a larger turf hill, measuring 24 meter diameter and 4 m high.



The Cap, National Museum
At her death the girl was only 17 years old. She was buried in an oakcoffin in the middle of the hill, covered by stones. The oakcoffin was almost dissolved. She lay upon a cowskin, and by her head was a cap made in sprangteknik. (a special made cap for women). She rested upon a layer of sorrel and other plants, which tell us that she was buried in summer. She was buried in her dress: a short-sleeved blouse, made by woven wool with embroideries upon the sleeves and around the neck, a long woolen skirt covered her from waist to feet , belt and shoes; fastened to the belt was a decorated horn comb. Her clothes were wool from dark, redbrown sheep. Her only jewelry was large spiral ear rings in 24 karat gold. She had 60 cm long, ashblonde hair, set in a special hairstyle, which she could not have done without assistance. Over the hair was a fine hairnet of horse's hair. The hairstyle was very difficult to wear and much indicates it might have been some kind of burial hair style. She was 170 cm tall which was rather tall in comparison to her contemporaries at that time.



Example of her hairstyle, wikipedia.
When her hair was arranged it was first combed flat back from the forehead, then a valk (a lump of soft material, evt. filled with human hair) was put over the forehead-hair, and the hair was combed forth above a thin layer. The tips of the hair were divided in some little tufts which were braided in front, forming a  braid across the forehead, and all of it was kept on place with  a woolen string. Over the hair was put a fine hairnet, braided by horse's hair in front and back. It was fastened upon an almost 5 m long woolen string.  The string was twined several times around the head, so it was like a headband, and it kept the hairstyle and the hairnet on its place.


The hairstyle and the goldrings, the oak coffin and the gravehill tell us that the Skrydstrupgirl belonged to a socially rich family. Her teeth witness that she from child had nutrient food. This could be a sign of high social status. The people who lived along "Hærvejen",  had the far away trade with the southern countries in Europe, with fur and amber and with bronze and gold.


The cause of her death is not known. The study of the skeleton did not reveal any kind of disease.
Skrydstrupgirl and Egtvedgirl
Her teeth were in good condition; they had a thick layer of enamel and not the slightest sign of caries. Obviously she had not missed anything in her diet during her upbringing. Her dress and her hair also witness about surplus and at the same time a great concern for the diseased. Her high position in society is underlined by the grave form itself , a gravehill of 13 meter diameter and 1,75 in height demanded lots of ressources to build, and the gathering of about 6000 peats was a common task for the local society.



New Knowledge.

Groundbreaking Danish research shows that the distinguished Skrydstrupgirl who was found in a gravehill in South Jutland in 1935 was not born or grew up in Denmark. The news were revealed in the TV- broadcast "Historien om Danmark" in April 2017. A unique recording in the TV-programme shows the moment in the laboratory when the discovery is obvious. The Skrydstrupgirl came from south of Denmark. This is a discovery which will change the understanding of much material from the Bronze Age, said professor Karin Margarita Frei from the National Museum of Copenhagen, who was the in the head of the examination.

It was also a sensation worldwide in 2015 when another grave find from antiquity revealed , that the iconic Egtvedgirl was not from Denmark, but was born and grew up in the southern Germany. This makes the discovery of the same result for the Skrydstrupgirl even more interesting. The result is important, because it shows that the Egtvedgirl was no special case; it seems to be a pattern, which tell us how humans, and in this case women, travelled and moved around in Bronze Age.

Karin M. Frei was also behind the examination of the Egtvedgirl, but contrary to the Egtvedgirl the examination of the Skrydstrupgirl shows all her life from childhood till death. This is the first time this has happened. Contrary to the Egtvedgirl who did travel several times during her life the Skrydstrupgirl was only out on one travel,  the travel from her birthplace to the region at Skrydstrup. The young woman came to the region at Skrydstrup when she was 13-14 years old, until then she had lived in a place many hundred kilometers away from this neigbourhood. She might have lived in the northern part of the Czech Republic, in France or in Mid Germany. After her arrival to Denmark she lived in South Jutland for almost 4 years before she died, ab.17 years old, around 1300 BC. She moved from south to north, possibly to create an alliance between two powerful families by marriage.
The Skrydstrupgirl's hairstyle /wikipedia

In order to map the ways of the Skrydstrupgirl professor Karin Frei has examined a 6-year tooth, a wisdom tooth, an about 50 centimeter long lock of hair  and some bones. Those things tell about food, upbringing  and geographical location through her life. Her grave has told us that she belonged to the elite of the society both before and when she came to Denmark. Her teeth tell us that she from child had nutritious diet,  which can be a sign of high status.

According to professor of archaeology at Gøteborg University , Kristian Kristiansen, the result has a significant importance for our understanding of Bronze Age. The Skrydstrupgirl emphasizes that Bronze Age was a time of globalization. People went from south to north in connection to marriage, and they went on long trade travels. Now there are scientific proofs that this is the case.

It is strange the Egtvedgirl died young too, there are no sign of disease in the bones and no sign of violence. It seems special that she died that young. Examinations shows that the Skrydstrupgirl was healthy, and the scientists have wondered what might have killed her. It was not possible to see from the bones if she had had any children, and if her death might be because of a childbirth. Much indicates that the Skrydstrupgirl migrated to Denmark when she was 13-14 years of age , an age where women were considered ready to marry in Bronze Age. 


 

National Museum exhibition:" Danmarks Oldtid." 

Karin Frei and the National Museum continue mapping other grave finds from Bronze Age. The investigation of the Skrydstrupgirl was only the first in a series. By mapping the origin of several Bronze Age women they hope to achieve a deeper insight in Bronze Age. 

The research project named: Bronzealderkvindens fortællinger. (The tales of the Bronze Age women) has its own web site.



The Skrydstrupgirl from ab. 1300 bc , the Egtvedgirl, who was buried in the summer 1370 BC and the other oakcoffin graves with dresses and jewelry are on the exhibition: "Danmarks Oldtid".

The Skrydstrupgirl's  oakcoffin was almost dissolved, only a small part was preserved around her head. At the exhibition she lies in a coffin from another hill, Mølhøj. At Haderslev Museum is a copy of her dress, and a bronze statue of the Skrydstrupgirl is set up in the town Vojens.




Bronze Age House in Thy, North Jutland (wikipedia) 


The Skrydstrupgirl's House.
During  Bronze Age arose in the region of Vojens a wealth center  ab. 1800-1000 bc. This is seen by the building of a number of grave hills and impressive houses. The Skrydstrupgirl's family was one of the strong parts in the building of this center. This period is often named Denmarks first Golden Age.

Much gold ended as grave equipment in the gravehills.  An important explanation  why a wealth center arose just at this place is the geography of the region. Here lies Hærvejen and it was via this road the precious metal came to the north.

In 1993 gravel was extracted in South Jutland. Museum Sønderjylland  examined the area and found several houses from Bronze Age; especially two houses were interesting.

One house was a more than 50 meter long and 10m broad hall, more than 500 square meter was under roof. It is the largest house from Bronze Age from this period in Scandinavia. The region was an important area with a great activity. The house was divided in three rooms, the living room, the barn, the stable. The dating of the house was 1500-1330 BC. Charred corn (mostly wheat) and mold residues show that the lord of the house both mastered the hard bronze casting and was able to get hold of the coveted metal. 

Another huse was under a small gravehill, the house was 30 m long and a little more than 7 m broad. Rooms were divided like in the big house. The dating of this house was between 1320 and 1220 BC. The house lay here upon the hillside at the same time as the Skrydstrupgirl lived (she was buried in one of the great Bronze Age hills only 600 m southwest of this house). Maybe she lived in this house, if so it might have been her grandfather or great grandfather who built the great hall.



Source: National Museum, Copenhagen; professor Karin M. Fre;  professor Kristian Kristiansen, Gøteborgs Universitet, and wikipedia. 
photo: National Museum and wikipedia. 






Friday, April 21, 2017

The Egtvedgirl / Egtvedpigen





Egtvedpigen is a famous Danish grave-find from Bronze Age and one of the best preserved,especially for her wellkept dress, which brought new knowledge about Denmark's past. She was considered a Danish girl from the beginning, but new knowledge and analyses have shown that she was born and grew up in south western Germany.
Egtvedgirl, National Museum.

yarrow from the hill, july 2010/gb
A Jutland farmer wanted in 1921 to remove the rest of a great hill, named "Storehøj", in his fields to make room for sowing, but while he was digging he hit a two meter long oak coffin. "Storehøj" was at that time outdigged and almost flat , but the wellkept grave with the oak coffin and a young girl's  body was placed in the eastern part of the hill. The coffin was an outhollowed barked oak trunk, one half was the coffin, the other a lid. The oak coffin is dated to year 1370 BC. Everything was found placed in the coffin as it were almost 3500 years ago. The coffin was lined with cow skin and the body of a young girl was placed carefully on the soft skin surrounded by her grave goods and covered with a woolen blanket -  and the coffin was closed . A little yarrow flower was put on the edge of the coffin before the lid was put on. The yarrow reveals that she was buried on a summer's day.



Storhøj in july 2010/gb

The region of Egtved was at that time of Bronze Age a power center in Jutland. Southern Germany and Denmark were two dominating power centers in western Europe. The archaeological material reveals that there are many direct connections between the two regions. One theory is that the Egtvedgirl was a girl from southern Germany who was to marry a powerful chief in Jutland in order to seal an alliance between two strong families. She was buried in a hill of her own, she was a person of high status. On a summer's day in 1370 BC her body was carefully buried in an oak coffin and covered by a grave hill, later named "Storehøj", close to Egtved village west of Vejle city. Her story is a fascinating tale from Bronze Age, and only because of her early death and burial in the grave hill at Egtved we are now able to discover more about the Bronze Age people. 


bronze belt plate(from Langstrup)/ wikipedia
The Egtvedgirl's teeth tell us that she was about 16-18 years old when she died. Although her skin and body parts are gone the find is still exceptional, since her dress and grave goods are very well preserved. She was carefully wrapped in a cow skin and covered by a woolen blanket. Her dress was a short-sleeved blouse, a kneelong cord skirt and a woven belt, mounted with a circular bronze belt plate , decorated with a spiral pattern. The belt plate symbolized the sun, the most important element of the Bronze Age religion. Fastened at her belt was a comb made of horn,  and her feet were wrapped in pieces of cloth. She had a bronze arm ring on borth arms and a fragile ear ring in one ear. A little wooden bowl beside her contained the rests of a fermented fruit drink - some kind of beer - and in a small box made of linden barch were a bradawl and the rests of a hair net. At her feet was a bundle of cloth with the burnt bones of a 5-6 year old child, and at her head a small box of birch-barch bones from the same child.








In the coffin was a wooden bowl, which in the bottom had a layer of thick brown precipitation. When the content was analysed it was obvious that it had contained a fermented drink, probably honey-sweetened beer. The drink was made by lingonberry or cranberry. Besides this were wheatgrains, rests of sweet gale and large amounts of pollen from the lime tree. The Egtvedgirl's brew is now put into production after 3.300 years. 
National Museum /Egtved girl/wikipedia
The grave hill "Storehøj" is reconstructed today, and in attachment is a small museum with permanent exhibitions and alternate activities. The Egtvedgirl is considered one of the best kept Bronze Age finds i Danish history and she is one of the most famous persons from antiquity.  She is today at exhibition at the National Museum in Copenhagen, and she is one of more than 20 Danish grave finds from Bronze Age which is unique worldwide.


New knowledge.
Schwarzwald, wikipedia/gb
The Egtvedgirl was not born in Egtved. She was from the start considered a Danish girl but today we know that she was born and grew up many hundred kilometers from Denmark. Analyses by help of the isotope strontium of her hair, teeth and nails show that she was born and grew up , probably in southwestern Germany -  and that she came to Egtved shortly before her death. The analyses of her hair and a thumb nail show that she travelled back and forth during the two last years of her life. This new knowledge tells us that the Bronze Age people travelled long distances in a relatively short time. The people of Bronze Age lived in a cosmopolitic and dymamic world.


the small museum/wikipedia
belt plate and arm ring/museum/gb
barch box/ july 2010/ museum/gb
The wool from her dress, the blanket and the cow skin come from a region outside Denmark. The wool comes from sheep which grass in various places or in a relatively big area with a complex geology  - and this is found in South West Germany. A combination of various analyses point to that the girl, her dress and the cow skin come from Schwarzwald (800 km south of Egtved). The same goes for the cremated rests of a six year old child, who was buried with her.

medieval market, Egtved july 2010/gb
landscape Egtved, july 2010/gb
The dating of the Egtvedgirl's coffin is a summer's day year 1370 BC. It is possible that the Egtvedgirl left Germany and went to Jutland to marry a great man's son, but after a few months she went back home to fetch a child from her home region, maybe a little brother or little sister who should be fostered in Egtved.  The child got sick and died underway, and the body was burnt, which made it easier to transport. The Egtvedgirl's hair shows that she has either suffered from starvation or been sick on the tour. Maybe she was still sick when she arrived at Egtved where she died shortly after and was buried with the child. She is the only person from Bronze Age, who was buried with the burnt bones from a child. The child was too old to be her own, but it might be her brother or sister whom she brought to Denmark to be fostered by her family in law. The analyses say that the child and the Egtvedgirl came from the same region. 






Theories:


Human sacrifice?
In the grave was a bundle with the burnt bones of a 5-6 year old child. The child was too old to be the girl's own child.  Maybe it was her little brother or sister or maybe a child who was sacrificed. From another woman grave in Bronze Age from the southern part of Jutland  is known a possible human sacrifice. The grave was examinated in the 1980s. Here was the body of a woman with a very rich grave equipment. At her feet were the burnt bones from a grown human, maybe her personal slave who was killed and burnt when she died? Possible human sacrifices are known from some contemporary graves in Bronze Age.

Dance rituals?
The Egtvedgirl was dressed in a significant cord skirt which reached her knees, it was wrapped twice around her waist and was about 38 cm long. That kind of skirt was used through Bronze Age. Some small women figures in bronze, found at Zealand, are also dressed in cord skirts. It has been suggested that the figures depict rituals which was made at the cult-feasts. Maybe women dressed in cord skirts danced ritual dances, and maybe the Egtvedgirl took part in these dance rituals.


Storhøj july 2010/gb

 



Source:  Det Natur og Biovidenskabelige fakultet, Københavns Universitet. .
professor Karin Margarita Frei,  Københavns Universitet
professor Kristian Kristiansen, Gøteborg Universitet. 

photo: wikipedia
photo: grethe bachmann, july 2010.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Poinsettia/ Julestjerne/ Christmas Star




A popular Christmas flower in many countries



The Poinsettia / DK: Julestjerne  (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a decorative plant which originally comes from Mexico. The Danish name Julestjerne means Christmas Star and the pretty plant has a name referring to Christmas in many countries. It is a commercially important plant species  and it  is indigenous to Mexico. It is particularly well known for its red and green foliage and is widely used in Christmas floral displays.

Euphorbia pulcherrima is a shrub or small tree, typically reaching a height of 0.6–4 metres. The plant bears dark green dentate leaves that measure 7–16 centimetres in length. The colored bracts which are most often flaming red but can be orange, pale green, cream, pink, white, or marbled—are often mistaken for flower petals because of their groupings and colors, but are actually leaves.The colors of the bracts are created through photoperiodism, meaning that they require darkness (12 hours at a time for at least five days in a row) to change color. At the same time, the plants require abundant light during the day for the brightest color. The flowers of the poinsettia are unassuming and do not attract pollinators. They are grouped within small yellow structures found in the center of each leaf bunch, and are called cyathia. The poinsettia is native to Mexico. It is found in the wild in deciduous tropical forests at moderate elevations. It is also found in the interior in hot, seasonally dry forests. There are over 100 cultivated varieties of poinsettia.
Poinsettia tree in Mexico/ pinterest


The Aztecs used the plant to produce red dye and as an antipyretic medication. In the language of the aztecs, the plant is called Cuetlaxochitl, meaning "Wilting flower". Today it is known in Mexico and Guatemala as Flor de Noche Buena, meaning Christmas Eve Flower. In Spain it is known as Flor de Pascua or Pascua, meaning Easter Flower. In Chile and Peru, the plant became known as Crown of the Andes. In Turkey, it is called Atatürk's flower because Atatürk, the founder of the Republic, liked this flower and made a significant contribution to its cultivation in Turkey. In Hungarian, it is called Santa Slaus Flower and it's widely used as a Christmas decoration. In the United States, December 12 is National Poinsettia Day.

It is one of the most polular Christmas plants in Denmark and is sold in millions, I presume. Eveyone wants to have the pretty red Christmas Star in their home in the month of December.  







Silver star, goldsmith F.Hingelberg, Århus (1960s)



The plant's association with Christmas began in 16th-century Mexico, where a legend tells of a girl, commonly called Pepita or Maria, who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus' birthday and was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson blossoms sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias. From the 17th century, Franciscan friars in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations. The star-shaped leaf pattern is said to symbolize the star of Bethlehem, and the red color represents the blood sacrifice through the crucifixion of Jesus.


 While the sap and latex of many plants of the spurge genus are indeed toxic, the poinsettia's toxicity is relatively mild. Its latex can cause an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals.
Poinsettias are susceptible to several diseases, mostly fungal, but also bacterial and parasitic.Cultivation areas outside are its natural environment, it is commonly grown as an indoor plant where it prefers good morning sun, then shade in the hotter part of the day. Contrary to popular belief, flowering poinsettia can be kept outside, even during winter, as long as it is kept frost-free. It is widely grown and very popular in subtropical climates.
Star of Bethlehem

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Scandinavian Woman in Viking Age



Viking grave site, Lindholm Høje, photo:GB


The Viking Age is often displayed as a violent time, dominated by  men who conquered countries and built kingdoms, but the image has changed during the latest 20 years. Archaeological finds from Scandinavia and the Continent bear witness  about the Viking women's daily activities, their power and status from slave to queen.





The daily Life of a Viking woman.


Hjerl Hede, photo:GB
Silkeborg Bymuseum, photo:GB
Most people in  Viking Age were farmers -  or they lived in farms. The management was maintained by a household: the family, some slaves, farm workers and servants, although the knowledge about a Viking household like this is limited today. The economy of the farm was (in Dk) based upon livestock, agriculture and production of textiles and other things for own use. All members of the house took probably part in the daily doings - the archaeological finds show that the production of textiles and metal objects and timber work were gender based for respectively women and men.

Textiles, Silkeborg Bymuseum, photo:GB


textiles, photo:GB
Women could work as craftsmen in the cities, often with the production of textiles for trade, and  they might also take part in doing the trade on behalf of the family. It seems that some women were specialized textile workers since the production- techniques were complicated. The production and trade of textiles were an important part of the economy.


The daily life in the city and on the farm was lived both inside and outside the house. Women took care of the children and of the elderly, they made food and conserved food, like dairy-products and other processing of raw products. The textile production included also processing of wool, spinning and weaving. Unfortunately the textiles from Viking Age are rarely preserved up till today, but some small fragments are found and they show a wide width in the techniques they used and in the quality of the textiles.



The gender roles via the burials of the Vikings tells something. Men and women were often buried in
Højstrup viking graves, photo: GB
their prettiest clothes with grave goods and eventually with sacrificed animals. During the 9th century and in the first half of the 10th century wealthy women wore a dress held together with two oval clamps on the shoulders and with more grave goods  like broches and pearl necklaces and spindle-things - often also with small chests containing textile equipment. Keys are also a common thing in women-graves - maybe marking the status of a house wife. But rich women-graves and rich men- graves were in general rather few. The rich graves seem reserved to the highest class in the social hierarchy. Common people were buried with one or two objects or nothing.





Silkeborg Bymuseum, photo:GB
The ideal Viking woman was a woman between 16-40 years of age. At 16 she was ready to marry and have children and she could take part in the physical hard life on the farm.She enjoyed to some extent more freedom than women in other parts of the medieval contemporary Europe. Written sources represent the Scandinavian woman of Viking age as independent and with rights. Runic inscriptions, especially from Mid Sweden, bear witness about the woman's right to dispose over her property and her rights to inherit. The married couple was jointly responsible for the household and had to trust the partner's willingness to cooperate. An apparently good relation was between a Swedish couple, Holmgaut and Odendisa, since Holmgaut let carve runes in a memorial after his wife "no better housewife will come to Hassmyra to look after the farm" This inscription describes the woman's role in the management of the farm, the organisation of the household and maybe the control of people, animals and ressources. If the husband was out on a Viking expedition the responsibility of everything at home fell to the woman.