These days, the news is hard to listen to. We are living through unprecedented and scary times right now. Both the coronavirus and climate change are at the forefront of our minds and front pages. It’s important to keep up with everything that’s going on, but I felt that right now we could all use something a bit different. What I found still evokes the thoughts of climate change. But at least it gives us a look into something a bit different from pure science for a change.
A bunch of artefacts were found in a mountain pass in Lendbreen, Norway. In 2011, as the ice patch there melted back due to climate change, a woolen tunic was found that dated back to the third or fourth century. Since the ice has retreated a lot more in the past few years, many more well-preserved artefacts were found.
Carbon dating showed that most of these artefacts dated back to the time of the Vikings, about 1000 years ago. It also showed that the pass was used by farmers and travelers for a thousand years, starting around AD 200-300 and ending around the time of the Black Death in the 1300s. The archaeologists say that the story that the objects make together is what is truly remarkable about them. Some of the interesting finds included woolen mittens, reindeer pelts and dairy products that were being carried by farmers and traders. There was even a snowshoe made for horses, a Bronze Age ski, and arrows that still had their feathers intact!
Reading this article, I was surprised to learn of a few new jobs I have never heard of. The Glacier Archaeology Program is one of many programs worldwide dedicated to studying what melting glaciers leave in their wake. Some glacial archaeologists from this group described this archaeological find as a dream. A medieval and environmental archaeologist, however, said that it was also a “poignant and evocative reminder of climate change”.
It’s interesting that there are entire programs dedicated to this type of archaeology which depends on climate change to persist. Learning about these artefacts almost perfectly preserved for a thousand years is so interesting. However, I would much rather have them stay preserved in the ice for another thousand. This particular glacier has almost completely retreated due to lots of melting in 2019. It seems that these archaeologists won’t be finding many more artifacts any time soon thanks to climate change.
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