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15.12.2020

A woman and a child, Gongehusvej

In the late 1980s, a settlement at Gøngehusvej 7 in Vedbæk was excavated. Archaeologists found pits and graves with the remains of both infants and adults-the dead were either buried or cremated. They were buried about 5000 B.C. A dog burial and a well-preserved double grave were also found. The double grave contained a woman in her 40s and a 3-year-old child. The skeletons in the grave were sprinkled with red ochre, and the dead were given beads-amulets of red and roe deer, wild boar, elk, bear and bison.

The Göngeuswei woman survived a severe blow to the back of her head. Her head had a bone stud and a beak. She may have originally worn a birdskin hat, of which only the bill remains today. On her chest were two bone-weaving needles and hoof bones from a roe deer. The bones were of leather that had been wrapped around her body. The child was given two flint knives, suggesting that it was a boy.

During the Mesolithic period there were many different methods of burying the dead. At Göngehuswei in Wedbeck, inhumated and cremated bodies were buried in both single and double graves. There were children's graves and a dog grave.

A newborn baby was buried on a wooden plate. There were traces of ochre around the baby. The grave was open, so that the little baby could be looked down on. Death was a ubiquitous element of life in the Stone Age. This may explain why Stone Age burials are sometimes found in settlements. Stone Age hunter-gatherers may have been buried with little or no inventory. Scattered finds of human bones in Mesolithic dumps show that not everyone received a proper burial.        

The trauma to the back of the head indicates that the Göngehuswei woman was struck with a blunt object. She must have survived the blow because the wound healed. However, such a hard blow could have caused some brain damage and probably resulted in decreased hearing or vision. The reason why the woman received the blow to the head is unknown. Her head had a large bone stud and a grebes' beak, which may have once been part of a birdskin hat. This headdress may have concealed the scar at the base of her head.

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