Denmark: Archaeologists Find Artisan’s 5,500-year-old Fingerprint in Ceramic Vessel

Archaeologists have found a 5,500-year-old fingerprint inside a ceramic vessel in Denmark believed to belong to the artisan who crafted the earthenware.

Ceramic Vessel Contains a 5,500-year-old Fingerprint

Archaeologists unearthed pieces of a ceramic vessel from an ancient fjord east of Rødbyhavn near Lolland, Denmark on the south coast. The 5,500-year-old ceramic vessel is known as a funnel beaker because of the characteristic funnel-shaped neck and the accompanying flat bottom of the vase.

Altogether, archaeologists found three beakers at the site. When they were brought to the Danish National Museum, upon closer inspection, experts found a fingerprint just within one of the ceramic vessels.

Ceramic Vessel Tied to the Funnel Beaker Culture

Between 4,000 to 2,800 B.C., the Funnel Beaker Culture flourished. It was a culture representative of the first Scandinavian and north European plains farmers, among them were specialized artisans who handcrafted vases.

Line Marie Olesen, one of the leading archaeologists from the Museum Lolland-Falster believes the beakers were originally used in a ritual. The three vessels quite possibly contained food or liquid as part of the ritual, though the ritual has been lost to the passage of time.

“From the contexts in which they appear, it is obvious that they played an important part in everyday life, be it ritual or profane,” said Olesen.

The artisans who crafted the funnel beakers were known to be meticulously skillful in creating and decorating the vessels. Olesen believes the fingerprint was accidentally left within the interior surface of the pot as the artisan crafted it.

More Findings from the Funnel Beaker Culture

The ceramic vessels found in the fjord aren’t the only artifacts to have been dug out of the site. Last year, Olesen and her colleagues uncovered a flint axe still intact that was dated to be around the same age as the ceramic vessels. Interestingly, the axe appeared to have been struck into where the seabed would have been around the Stone Age.

Also discovered last year were footprints from the people of the Funnel Beaker Culture. The researchers believed that these footprints were left as the people scurried in a desperate attempt to save their fishing system before a massive flooding.

As Olesen and other researchers continuing excavating the fjords near Lolland, more remarkable discoveries will lead to insights of the Funnel Beaker Culture and its peoples’ way of life over 6,000 years ago, quite possibly even the main use of the recently founded ceramic vessel and its intriguing ancient fingerprint.


A notebook to jot down your strange and wonderful finds: