'World-Class' 1,000-Year-Old Egyptian Earring Found in Danish Field Perplexes Researchers
07:08 GMT 06.12.2021 (Updated: 19:26 GMT 03.11.2022)
While only a dozen such precious jewels have been found worldwide, what makes this item even more special is that it was found in the midst of an ordinary field. Current speculation says that it could have been a gift from a Byzantine emperor to a Viking who served in the Varangian Guard.
An extremely rare golden piece of jewellery from Egypt has been found in West Jutland, Denmark.
The crescent-shaped earring from the 1000s, found by a metal detectorist, consists of a golden plate with enamel decoration depicting two birds around a tree or a plant. According to researchers, the earring most likely originated in Egypt, and no similar pieces of jewellery have been found in Scandinavia before. One theory is that it depicts the Tree of Life that is understood in both Islamic and the Christian way of thinking.
"There are only 10-12 such pieces worldwide. All in old museum collections in the US, UK, or Arab countries. Such a piece is unique", National Museum archaeologist and inspector Peter Pentz told Danish Radio.
Even more astounding is the site, a field in Bøvling near Lemvig.
"How did it ever end up in Jutland? It's interesting", Peter Pentz noted.
One theory is that the ruler of the Byzantine Empire, a mighty Christian state stretching from Italy and the Balkans to parts of the Middle East, with present-day Istanbul (formerly Constantinople as its capital) gifted the earring to a Danish Viking who was in his bodyguard, also known as the Varangian Guard that consisted of Scandinavians.
Another one is that this piece of jewellery was brought to Jutland by a Dane who went on a piligrimage to the Eastern Mediterranean.
According to Pentz, the earring likely comes from Cairo due to similarities with other crescent-shaped earrings in museum collections.
On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, he described the find from Bøvling as a pure "eight", not least due to the elaborate enamel work similar to the Byzantine relief Dagmark Cross that was found in 1683 in one of the royal tombs in Saint Bendt's Church in Ringsted.
"In quality, the enamel on the earring is not quite as good as the Dagmark Cross. But where the Dagmark Cross was found in a queen's grave, where context lends itself, the earring was found without any context whatsoever in a field in West Jutland. It's a little fascinating with detector finds that you can imagine quite a lot", Prentz said.
Beginner’s Luck? Danish Rookie Treasure Hunter Makes ‘Most Beautiful’ Discovery in Country’s History
7 September 2021, 19:57 GMT
The earring was quickly sent to the National Museum, which described it as a world-class find. Its conservators have cleaned the gold jewellery in record time in order to include it in an ongoing exhibition showcasing Denmark's largest collection of treasures from the Viking Age.