Archaeological afterlife Odense Bys Museer explores burial urns from the Iron Age found in Bellinge
Time is a funny thing. It either races on, charging like a loose bull into a crowd of foolish optimists running ahead of it - or it slows down, patient, joining us at walking speed through generations. With this mind of its own, we hardly know what to expect, even as we think history has properly tamed the unpredictable Chronos.
Time has been generous with the village of Bellinge, located south-west of Odense. In the spring of 2019, archaeologists here discovered an Iron Age burial site, consisting of over 100 graves, with burial urns holding the ashes of the dead. For more than 1600 years, time has flown by the hidden graves, keeping it secret and peaceful, patiently waiting for scientific curiosity to unearth the forgotten urns. And now, it has done exactly that!
In the grand scheme of things, it might sound like a slightly “familiar” find. It’s no Dead Sea scrolls, fossilised nodosaur, or a 7000-year-old Spanish Stonehenge. But this is the seventh largest Iron Age burial site in Fyn and one of the best preserved too. Not everyone here had been cremated, which allows archaeologists to examine personal belongings, jewellery or pottery, thus following the “Iron Age people from cradle to grave.”
Time and death are strange bedfellows – witnesses in the end to the literal unearthing of people’s lives. It is uncanny to be part of their “lives after death;” to have our own suburban lives in Fyn tangled with the mythical place they might have called “beyond the grave.” They must not have imagined this, as they stepped into the great unknown, at the moment of their death. But here we are nevertheless – curious, excited, grateful that time has preserved this treasure so nicely.
Odense Bys Museer opens a Museum Lab, where the urns are dug up and other objects are expected to see the light of day. Join in!Link to the event
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