A field on the Danish island of Bornholm has in recent years been the site of many surprising archaeological finds. The most recent one of these was of a golden figurine of a naked woman.
The small, heavily arched figurine is only 4.2 cm tall and weighs 3 grams, has many details and bears the mark of quality craftsmanship.
The woman has a long and slender body, which may have been made out of a thin bar of gold. The head is elongated with a protruding jaw and incised hair. The breasts are sagging and below both shoulders are notches, indicating that her arms have been tied around her body.
The arms are stretched and the thumbs are pressed against one another, while the other fingers are facing downwards. On the stomach is a more clearly incised belt decorated with a zig-zag pattern, and the private parts are clearly visible between the short and thin legs.
The golden woman appears to be either standing on her toes or jumping up athletically with the insteps stretched. And above the elegantly shaped feet, the calves and knees are clearly visible.
When viewing the figurine from the front, it is tempting to associate the naked, buxom, athletic female figure with fertility and health.
Remarkably, the back side has ten prominent ‘teeth’, something that has never been seen before.
Naked female figurines are a rarity in Nordic Iron Age art, where male figurines dominated.
The golden woman is the fifth in a series of small, golden human figurines from the Smørenge field on Bornholm. The first four are all believed to depict men, while there is no doubt about the gender of the last addition to the series.
The first figurine was found in the spring of 2009, together with a number of other finds, including several gold-foil figures, while the next three appeared in spring 2012.
Common to all the five figurines is that the heads are plastically formed, but otherwise there is a great deal of variation.
The five figurines were probably buried in the same place, individually or collectively, at some point during the 6th century AD, i.e. the Migration Period.
Three of them were found within five metres of each other, while the other two were found 10-15 metres further away. Presumably it was the plough that separated them.
This location may have been chosen due to the presence of one or more springs.
Only an excavation would give more information about the characteristics of the place, and such plans have now become a high priority.
This article is reproduced on this site by kind permission of Skalk, a Danish periodical with articles about Danish prehistoric and medieval archaeology, history and related topics.