What were these gold spirals for?

Archaeologists Baffled By 2,000 Tiny Gold Spirals Discovered In Denmark

A press release from the National Museum of Denmark reveals this mysterious find. Thousands of tightly-wound gold wires, each about one inch long, appears to have been buried in a box aged around 900 BC.

Nearly 2,000 small gold spirals from the Bronze Age have come to light at Boeslunde on Zealand, Denmark. Archaeologists have never seen anything like it before.

They do not know what they’ve been used for, and they have never seen them before in Denmark. The archaeologists at the Museum Zealand and the National Museum of Denmark are facing a little mystery, when they consider what they have just excavated.

Close to 2000 gold spirals of up to three centimeters in length and fragments of gold spirals. They are made of very thin, flattened gold wire and date to the Bronze Age in the period 900-700 BC, explains curator at the National Museum of Denmark, Flemming Kaul.

The place on the island, Boeslunde, where they were found is the site of previous finds. Scientists speculate they were a sacrifice or worn by a priest-king. The objects will be on display at the museum.

gold spirals

  18 comments for “What were these gold spirals for?

  1. Lachessys
    July 16, 2015 at 3:33 PM


  2. scotty
    July 16, 2015 at 3:40 PM

    I’m not sayin’ it was Aliens, but….

  3. Tom
    July 16, 2015 at 3:57 PM

    Just seems to be the gold equivalent of wood shavings probably hoarded to make a future piece of gold jewellery.

  4. Christine Rose
    July 16, 2015 at 4:18 PM

    Probably. I was thinking hair ornaments or an elaborate piece of ritual jewelry. It sounds like the site may provide some context. Still, it must be the height of coolness to find those things.

  5. July 16, 2015 at 7:59 PM

    That was my first thought but it depends on whether there are tool marks indicating that they were specifically made to be this shape or if the shape is a by-product of another process. The “flattened gold wire” remark makes me think the former but I’d be interested in knowing what the evidence is around manufacture.

  6. MisterNeutron
    July 16, 2015 at 8:29 PM

    Proof that the Slinky was invented 3000 years ago by leprechauns.

  7. Chris
    July 17, 2015 at 12:57 AM

    I’ve seen something similar in a bead store, though most often in copper: http://www.thebeadchest.com/copper-coil-beads

    The stringing material seems to have deteriorated.

  8. eddi
    July 17, 2015 at 3:21 AM

    Off-cuts from a sheet would not be shaped. Just dropped in a container. I think Lachessys is correct, elements of a beard or wig. The article mentions the connection between the sun god and gold. A priest or priestess might have worn them for a ceremony, then buried them as a sacrifice to the sun god.

  9. busterggi (Bob Jase)
    July 17, 2015 at 9:32 AM

    No leprechauns in Norway – svartalfar more likely.

  10. DanielWainfleet
    July 17, 2015 at 12:17 PM

    Didn’t the “ancient-aliens” crowd weigh in with “electric circuit parts” ?

  11. Russian Skeptic
    July 17, 2015 at 4:23 PM

    No mystery at all. You should consider their size first of all – too small to be hair ornaments or pieces of jewellery (in the Bronze Age, people did not wear jewellery that tiny as we do now). And they certainly cannot be a by-product of anything – there is no known goldsmith technique from the Bronze Age that would leave such by-product in such amount.
    So what are they? They are remains of embroidery. Embroidery with threads covered by tiny gold spirals has been known since very ancient times. Such an early example is presumably to be cruder than the later ones we know from Roman or Byzantine era. The size just fits a thick woollen thread or a thin cord that might be used for, say, fringe.

  12. Mark Riegel
    July 17, 2015 at 5:09 PM

    Lachessys, you beat me to it.

  13. Darcyc
    July 17, 2015 at 8:47 PM

    Terribly impressed sir. you managed to solve the issue from the scant details in a news story while archaeologists who have the actual artifacts and surrounding context aren’t sure.

  14. Artor
    July 19, 2015 at 1:14 AM

    There is some remarkably fine jewelry work from the Bronze Age. Look up some of the Scythian burial goods, and prepare to be amazed. Not being able to see the coils close up, I can’t say for certain if they are tailings from an engraving job, saved to melt into jewelry later, or coils to decorate hair or fringe. Engraving gold with a chisel would certainly produce tight little coils similar to this, so I’m not sure how you can dismiss that option so easily.

  15. Russian Skeptic
    July 19, 2015 at 10:31 AM

    I am terribly impressed by your irony, but I am not a sir, I am female and know quite a bit about history of clothing-making techniques.

  16. Russian Skeptic
    July 19, 2015 at 10:40 AM

    Being Russian, as my nickname suggests, I have certainly seen quite a few Scythian artifacts. But Scythians are not Bronze Age nor Scandinavian, just google when and where Scythians lived. Typical Bronze Age Scandinavian jewellery is large and heavy and I am unaware of any Bronze Age Danish artefact chiselled all over so as to produce uniform little spirals.
    Just look here:

  17. David H
    July 19, 2015 at 9:52 PM

    I was thinking along similar lines. possibly the stuff was what they used to call purl. Gold thread for embroidery .
    Something like this stuff: http://www.craftyattic.com/goldworkembpurl.html

  18. MJKnopf
    September 30, 2015 at 5:36 PM

    Are they NOT Turnings – spiral shaves from a lathe, perhaps?

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