A recent DNA analyzing the Egtved Girl’s remains revealed she was born and raised outside of Denmark. A study from the University of Copenhagen suggested she had travelled hundreds of miles in the last two years of her life and originated from Southwest Germany.
Studying stronium isotope signatures — referred as stronium for short — helps researchers pinpoint and map year by year where the Egtved girl travelled to. They recovered most of her DNA from a molar the girl had when she was around four years old.
“The analysis tells us that she was born and lived her first years in a region that is geologically older than and different from the peninsula of Jutland in Denmark,” said Senior researcher Karin Margarita Frei.
After analyzing the information they found, researchers then checked the make of the wool coat the Egtved girl was buried with. Frei concluded the girl came from the Black Forest region of Germany, since her coat was made with materials only traced to that area.
It didn’t surprise Kristian Kristiansen from the University of Gothenburg, who said there was a strong trading system between Denmark and Germany in the Bronze Age.
“In Bronze Age Western Europe, Southern Germany and Denmark were the two dominant centres of power, very similar to kingdoms,” said Kristiansen. “My guess is that the Egtved Girl was a Southern German girl who was given in marriage to a man in Jutland to forge an alliance between two powerful families.”
According to Kristiansen, Denmark and Germany were two of the wealthiest and most influential countries in Northern Europe because of amber, which was considered gold in Ancient Greece. Denmark had a wealth of amber, which travelled south through Germany. Greece and other Southern European countries would send bronze up to Denmark in exchange, which is comparable to oil in modern times.
As a result, powerful families would marry off each other’s children not only to strengthen friendly ties, but also to ensure security between the two regions. Trading daughters was as common as trading any other commodity.
There are a lot of other well-preserved Bronze Age graves in Europe, particularly Denmark, where human remains are intact and easy to analyze. Frei is interested in studying them with the stronium isotope technique to see what kind of lives they may have lead as well.