A group of amateur treasure hunters from Urjala in western Finland came across what looked like dirt-encrusted objects during a treasure hunt on Monday. They turned over their find to the Pirkanmaa regional museum for further examination.
According to archaeologist Ulla Moilanen, the jewels could date back to the Viking Age, putting them at some 1,000 years old. She said their distinctive shape and decoration made identifying them easier.
"This is a two-part balanced-arm buckle with a chain that probably belonged to a woman’s costume," Moilanen commented.
Exemplary action by treasure hunters
Moilanen said that she was thankful to the treasure hunters who discovered and handed over the valuable artefact.
"They acted magnificently. As soon as the find emerged, they cleared the site and didn’t dig anymore," she explained.
The archaeologist pointed out that amateurs who find ancient artefacts should take them to researchers intact, without cleaning them.
"The location of the find must be logged. The jewels will be sent to the National Museum in Helsinki for conservation. The location will be checked to see if it was a graveyard, a dwelling or something else," she said.
Search on for ancient graves
Researchers said that it’s possible that the Urjala find could help turn up the remnants of a cemetery or residential area.
"On the other hand there are isolated finds, but in this case there is a small suspicion that it could be a burial ground," she added.
In fact an untouched burial ground would be a rare discovery for researchers.
"We might be able to find bone fragments or teeth. Teeth could help us determine relations, even to modern Urjala residents. Isotopic testing could reveal the diet of the deceased and even when the individual was weaned from breast milk," Moilanen explained.
Detailed tests would also determine the last meal that the deceased ate, identify objects placed in the grave and shed light on other burial rituals.