The Viksø helmets inner beauty…

This picture shows the inside of one of the Viksø helmets horn ends. Clearly, one can see brownisch organic material in spirals embedded in black organic material.

In 2019 this black material was used to scientifically date the helmets. In 2023 the beauty within the interplay between these different materials was also seen by the panel of the The DNRF Photo Competition 2023. This beautiful picture is within the 10 selected photos of the competition, a great honour. And, it symbolises a new area of archaeological science, how exciting.

Interested in the idea of ambassadors in Bronze Age trade networks?

My completed research project on the connections between female mobility and metal trade in Bronze Age northern Europe resulted in the idea of ambassadors. Here, ambassadors are seen as people, female as male, who connect social groups and establish and maintain networks. These networks involve the trade of metals and other goods, leading to an increasing exchange of people and, thus, knowledge. The exchange of knowledge is fundamental for social development.

For more, join my forthcoming lectures on this topic at:

  • the Kiel Conference 2023: Scales of Social, Environmental and Cultural Change in past Societies #KielScales23, Session 1, Monday 13th March 16.00.
  • and at the EEA Meeting in Belfast 30th August – 2nd September 2023, Session: #480, Metals and Metalworking I

New project about the Viksø helmets launched!

Start of 2022 the news around the world reported that organic material from one of the horns of the Viksø helmets could be scientifically C14-dated and make their use around 950 BC very likely. Not surprisingly for Danish archaeologists, these helmets come from the late Bronze Age. What is surprising, however, is that this new date marks the first published scientific analysis of these artifacts. In October 2022, the Danish Cultural Ministry announced the newly financed research projects within the humanities and the project Viksø re-investigated was one of them! Following, I will spend the next years creating an interdisciplinary biography of the Viksø helmets. A combination of a craft-technical analysis, the archaeometallurgical fingerprint of the helmets, and local workshops combined with a stylistic and iconographic examination of contemporary helmets will give us new insights into the helmet’s origin and meaning!

Crafting for the God(s) – a lecture on craft theory at the MINERVA School workshop at Bar Ilan University, Tel Aviv

From the 11th to 15th of September I had the pleasure to present my research and theoretical methodology to craft in prehistoric times at the MINERVA school workshop “Crafting for the God(s)”. The intellectual exchange between the many different research fields gathered at this workshop allowed fruitful discussions and opened my mind to a more ritual perspective on craft.

Horned Helmets are not a Viking Age Phenomenon!

Yes, that is correct! They are part of a transfer of novel beliefs and cults that spread across Europe during the Late Bronze Age, around 1000 BC, as you can read in our new article published in Prähistorische Zeitschrift. The new radiocarbon date of one of the Viksø helmets did not confuse the archaeologists of this study, it supported much more what Danish research had long assumed. The interesting fact was, that the helmets date into a transition period within the Late Bronze Age. A detailed network analysis of the iconography revealed striking similarities between southwest Iberia, Sardinia and southern Scandinavia.

The sample for the new 14C date is taken from the horn opening (picture H. W. Nørgaard with permission by the National Museum Denmark)

This article caused quite a stir in the archaeological news world. Interestingly, it was mainly the fact that the horned helmets date from the Bronze Age that caught the interest of the press. Fortunately, this popular culture myth now seems to have been dispelled. Initiated by the first coverage in Science magazine, now CNN, The Times, LiveScience, the Smithsonian Magazine, Popular Science US, Daily Mail UK, Archaeology,, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Der Spiegel, National Geographic Spain and Hungary, Terrae Antigvae Spain, GEO France, ITALIA magazine, La Repubblica Italy, Jyllands-Posten and also write about our research.

This research was funded by the Cultural Ministry of Denmark. Only due to the collaboration with the National Museum Denmark and Moesgaard Museum, the Curt-Engelhorn-Centre in Mannheim, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Cagliari in Sardinia, the Archaeological superintendency of Sardinia this paper by Helle Vandkilde (Aarhus University), Valentina Matta (Aarhus University), Laura Ahlqvist (Aarhus University) and Heide W. Nørgaard (Moesgaard Museum) could be published.

Horned helmets and warrior ideology in Bronze Age Europe

Today our article “Anthropomorphised warlike beings with horned helmets: Bronze Age Scandinavia, Sardinia, and Iberia compared”, written by Helle Vandkilde, Valentina Matta, Laura Ahlqvist and me, was published open access in Prähistorische Zeitschrift. It includes a brand-new C14-dating of the famous Viksø-helmets, a detailed network analysis of the iconography related to horned helmets and some ideas to how the similarity between Scandinavia, Sardinia and Iberia could be understood.

See what SCIENCE is writing about our new article…

Did you miss the public lecture about Bronze Age metal trade and the Egtved ornaments at Vejle Museerne? Watch the live-stream

My lecture “Bronzealderens metalhandel – Netværksskift er inspiration til bronzealderens sociale organisation” from October 26th, 2021 can now be viewed online.

Conference Lecture: Skiftende forsyning af kobber fik stor betydning for udviklingen af metalhåndværket i den nordiske bronzealder

Foredrag ved Kultur-, naturhistorisk- og kunstfagligt orienteringsmøde
på Munkebjerg Hotel ved Vejle den 17. november 2021 kl. 13.30

Et nyt tværfagligt forskningsprojekt (2016-2020) har kortlagt de handelsveje og forsyningsnetværk, som i de første 700 år af bronzealderen førte kobber til
Sydskandinavien og dermed lagde grunden til en kultur for yderst specialiseret
metalhåndværk. De nye forskningsresultater kortlægger de markante skift handelsnetværkene for metaller var underlagt og identificerer specifiske forandringer i forsyningskæden, som kan kobles til øvrige social-økonomiske ændringer i Sydskandinaviens rige metalafhængige bronzealdersamfund. Forskningen viser, at forsyningskæden og handelsnetværkene med kobber gennemgik adskillige forandringer. Det vises at bronzealderen i Sydskandinavien opstod på baggrund af kobber, som først blev handlet
gennem netværk fra de britiske øer, Wales og Slovakiet. Disse netværk bestod gennem 500 år, hvorefter de blev opløst og afløst af nye handelsnetværk for kobber, som kom fra Alperne i det nordlige Italien.

Dette hidtil største arkæometallurgiske datasæt viser, at forandringerne hang sammen med større forandringer i den nordiske bronzealders sociale organisering, bosætning, ritualer og mobilitet over lange distancer.

Public Lecture: Bronzealderens Metalhandel – Netværksskift er inspiration til bronzealderens sociale organisation

Foredragsrække 100 års jubilæet for fundet af Egtvedpigen – 26/10/2021 kl. 19-21 – SPINDERIGADE 11E VEJLE Museum

Den storslåede Sydskandinaviske bronzealder etablerede sig på baggrund af kobber handlet gennem netværk fra de britiske øer samt Slovakiet for lidt over 4000 år siden. Disse handelsnetværk bestod gennem 500 år, hvorefter de blev opløst og nye handelsnetværk for kobber blev etableret til alperne i det nordlige Italien. De nye forskningsresultater viser, at både forsyningskæden og handelsnetværket gennemgik adskillige forandringer i løbet af de første 700 år af den nordiske bronzealder. Forandringerne medvirkede til udviklingen af en kultur der mestrede yderst specialiseret metalhåndværk som kan ses i Egtved pigens smykker.

Public lecture: Bjerghelligdommen Matzanni på Sardinien. Gigantiske helte, metaller og en nordisk forbindelse belyst ved højteknologisk arkæologi

Foredragsrække Moesgaard Museums Venner/ Jysk Arkæologisk Selskabs Venenr – 29/09/2021 kl. 19-21 – Moesgaard Museum

Drawing of a Bronze Age statuetti at the National Museum Cagliari (Picture; Heide Nørgaard)

Lecture by Valentina Matta (ph.d.-studerende, Aarhus Universitet), Helle Vandkilde (professor. Aarhus Universitet), David Stott (postdoc, Moesgaard Museum), Heide W. Nørgaard (postdoc, Moesgaard Museum).