Prehistoric TimeIn the earliest times humans sought out the places where they could find food by hunting and gathering. When the food supply dwindled they moved on. It is assumed that work has been divided early on: Women have mostly gathered clams and oysters at the coast as well as fruit, seeds and grain, and the men have mainly been hunters and fishers. In the hunter-gatherer society most of the food was vegetarian.
The gathering of supplies has been a necessity considering our climate of winter and summer. Mankind’s earliest product was clay pots of different kinds for storing food. It is believed that women have made most of the pots.
Travelling with supplies was impractical. Our foremothers and -fathers eventually settled in one place and started sowing and harvesting crops. Settled life became a hunter-farmer society where men were still hunters and women supplemented the plant food by sowing seeds and grains and keeping animals near the home. Animals were captured, tamed and bred as domestic animals. They could be slaughtered and eaten or used as draught animals in the fieldwork.
A part of the settlement culture is the loom. Earlier, people dressed in hides from the animals they killed, processed into clothes with among other things flint scrapers. With the spindle and loom it became possible to process plant and fur fibres, e.g. flax and wool, and weave clothes.
Fire making and the preparation of food over fire was a revolution in the history of civilisation.
Earth finds and the oldest written sources of thoughts and beliefs from these early times tell us that fertility worship was central to life’s rituals and myths. Sacrificing to the gods has been a recurring event.
Frøya - the goddess found in Rebild - is believed to date from the middle iron age. She has two eyes marked in the cylindrical head, wrinkles on the stomach and a marking of genitals. The figure’s function at the place of sacrifice is unknown but most likely it has been supporting fertility.
Another offering is the Gundestrup Vessel. The vessel was found in Himmerland in 1891 and is dated app. 300 BC. It is probably not Danish design, but more likely from middle Europe.
The decorated silver vessel was made from a bottom and eight side panels (of which only seven have been found). The side panel in the exhibition is a plaster copy. It shows a woman, presumably a priestess, nursing a man at one breast and a dog at the other.
People were heathens. The ideas of life and death were connected to the belief in Ases. Odin and Thor were the important gods, but Freya is described as Odin’s equal.
Freya is the Scandinavian love goddess. Many characteristics and functions are shared with Frigg, wife of Odin and mother of Balder, the gods’ favourite who died, struck by a mistletoe arrow.
Women in childbirth called on Freya as well as on Frigg.
Ydun too was indispensable in the society of the gods. She dispensed the apples from a tree in Asgard, reserved for the gods. These apples gave eternal youth and health.