A Baby Was Buried Upon a Swan's Wing in Denmark 6000 Years Ago

Baby Buried on a Swan's Wing

Sometimes, when poring through history texts, it's easy to start seeing people of ancient times as 'objects' or 'concepts' to be studied from our informed vantage point in the future (relative to them). But sometimes archaeology uncovers evidence that helps us to realise that people back then were very much human.

For instance: In Vedbæk, Denmark, 6000 years ago, a young woman was laid to rest beside a baby, with the dead infant placed upon a swan's wing.

Grave 8, the most famous of the burials, contains a young woman, who may have died at childbirth, and a premature baby. The symbolism of the baby on the swan wing has been much debated with suggestions including purity and the ability of a water bird to transcend water, land and air. Certainly both bodies were cared for in death (the disorderly state of the mother's ribs suggest that she may have been resting on an organic 'pillow'), which suggests a belief that the spirit remained with the body.

And while the drawing on the right is not meant to be historically accurate (it's taken from the comic Mezolithic, by Ben Haggarty), I think most if not of all of us can appreciate the humanity present in the scene.

(via Irish Archaeology)


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
earthling's picture
Member since:
22 November 2004
Last activity:
36 min 39 sec

I am sure the ancient people thought as deeply as we did. Their science was up to the state of the art at their time. They probably didn't call it "science" the way we to today,

But they didn't just feel, they thought. About the past and the future. They made plans, for this life and the next.

We are the cat.

LastLoup's picture
Member since:
6 April 2010
Last activity:
10 hours 57 min

...and beautiful. Yes, we too many times put history on a shelf to be gawked at instead of appreciated. I wonder, when they crack open a grave 6000 years from now and find an iPad will it have the effect :P

...I forgot how I got here but everyone seems to be heading off in that direction. I hope someone brought food. I have a feeling this is going to be a long journey................