Melting Ice Patch Reveals Trove of Ancient Artefacts Including 6,000 Arrows in Norway
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Archaeologists in Norway recently found a treasure trove of ancient artifacts – some dating back to 6,000 years after a melting patch of ice in the high mountains.
They also found dozens of arrow shafts, shoes, clothing, and reindeer bones on the mountainside, located in Jotunheimen, which lies about 240 miles from the capital Oslo. Based on radiocarbon dating methods, the researchers claim that some of the arrows date back to the Neolithic period (4100 BC), and the most recent finds are from the 14th century A.D.
While the record setting discovery confirmed the fact that the region was a popular spot for reindeer hunting millennia ago, it also upends ideas on how ice can preserve or destroy evidence from the archaeological finds. The varied amounts of weathering on the objects as well as their random order counters the theory that ice patches act like photographs that present a persevered image of the past.
The new discovery of 68 arrows, some still intact with arrowheads attached, were found along with few other artifacts. A variety of materials like – iron, quartzite, slate, mussel shell and even bone were used to make the arrowheads. The biggest number of arrows dated to 700 through 750 AD, whereas the oldest were some 6,000 years old.
According to archaeologist Lars Holger Pilo, "this find is earlier than any other ice site in Northern Europe". It even predates about 800 years more than Otzi – the 5,100 years-old ice mummy found in the Tyrolean Alps in 1991.
The Langfonne discovery was one of the first ice patch sites that came to light after a local hiker discovered a 3,300-year-old leather shoe sitting near an ice patch in 2006. It was reported to Pilo, who now is a researcher at the Innlandet County Council Cultural Heritage Department and a co-author of the new study.
'The idea was, ice is like a time machine. Anything that lands on it stays there and is protected,' Pilo, told The National Geographic.
Archaeologists must move fast while preserving as much as much information as possible as the steady melting ice poses its own challenges.