The Glacial Archaeology Program is rushing to preserve melting artifacts found in Oppland County, Norway. These were first discovered amongst the ice in the fall of 2006.
Since 2011, the collaboration between the Oppland County Council and University of Oslo’s Museum of Cultural History has uncovered 2000 ancient artifacts. These were recovered from 51 sites along the receding glacial ice. The artifacts could help reveal new information about the way of life of Norway’s early residents.
Melting Glaciers Expose Artifacts to Researchers and the Elements
Like the freezing water saving Florida citrus, ice encapsulates and preserves organic materials. However, the generalized global warming is steadily melting earth’s ice.
As Norway’s glacial ice layers dissolve, items that have been captured for centuries in this natural freezer are starting to be exposed. However, this exposure to the air, sun, wind, and rain is causing the preserved materials to wither and crumble. For researchers, the hunt for ancient information became a race against time and the weather.
Amongst the different dig sites, researchers gathered around 2000 ancient artifacts, including bones, arrows, and bows. The ice also held horse tack, tunics, and sleds.
These are helping offer give a glimpse into how ancient communities dealt with the changing weather, food shortages, and trading. Little is currently known about these areas because artifacts of this nature typically deteriorate.
By using radiocarbon dating, glacial archaeologists have traced the artifacts to over a 6000-year time span. This includes an arrow shaft from 3900BC, an Iron Age tunic from 300AD, and hunting equipment from the Late Antique Little Ice Age (536-600CE).
The amount and type of artifacts found during specific time periods have surprised researchers. There are currently time spans for which there are few or no artifacts. More may be hidden amongst the layers of ice that remain in Oppland’s melting glaciers. Still, it will be an ongoing race to find them before they too melt away.
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