A 7,000-Year-Old Woman from Skateholm, Sweden

This 7,000-year-old woman was among Sweden’s last hunter-gatherers.
Buried on a bed of antlers and adorned with ornaments, this woman was a special member of her community, but why?

Reconstruction of a woman who lived 7,000 years ago, using her skeletal remains and ancient DNA. This discovery was made in 2019 in southern Sweden.

Burial and Identity

The woman, referred to as Burial XXII and the “Seated Woman,” was an important member of her community. She was buried in an upright position, seated on a bed of antlers and adorned with various ornaments. This unique burial suggests her special status.

Physical and Archaeological Details

She was under five feet tall and between 30 and 40 years old at her time of death. Her DNA indicates she had dark skin and pale eyes, characteristics of Mesolithic Europeans. The excavation of her remains was led by Lars Larsson at Skateholm in the 1980s. Skateholm is notable for its over 80 ancient graves, dating from 5,500 to 4,600 B.C. These graves offer insights into the hunter-gatherer societies of the era, which coexisted with the emerging Neolithic agricultural communities.

Museum Display and Cultural Significance

The reconstructed burial will be displayed at the Trelleborg Museum. While her exact role in society is unclear, some speculate she might have been a shaman, a theory supported by her burial’s distinctiveness and the artifacts found with her. This reconstruction sheds light on the complex societal structures and burial practices of Mesolithic Europe, illustrating the sophisticated nature of these ancient communities.