Global warming is melting glaciers and from within these glaciers, scientists are discovering ancient artefacts. It is not an isolated event and scientists have discovered a series of artefacts from areas as far as North America, Scandinavia, and the Alps. All of these items were perfectly preserved like frozen time capsules.
The team is led by archaeologist and Co-director of the Norway-based Glacier Archaeology Program at Oppland County Council Lars Pilø. The project was launched back in 2006 for the purpose of finding and documenting these prehistoric items.
Oppland County is one of the 19 counties in Norway and is the site of the most glacial melt-centred archaeological finds in the world. Pilø says that the team has recovered more than 2000 artefacts since the beginning of their work and there are still surprises every now and then. “This is a new and fantastic archaeological record of past human activity in some of the most remote and forbidding landscapes.”
An article titled “The chronology of reindeer hunting on Norway’s highest ice patches” was published this week in “The Royal Society Open House”. It revealed clues about reindeer hunting patterns in early periods of history with the aim of opening “an unprecedented window on the chronology of high-elevation activity.”
The article also revealed that some of the items discovered date all the way back to 4,000 BC. Since the work of the team was launched in 2006—Pilø refers to the team tasked with this work as being “unlikely beneficiaries of global warming,” They have been at a race against time. As soon as the ice melts the artefacts are immediately vulnerable to external environmental factor.
“The moment these artefacts melt out of the ice, they’re immediately vulnerable to the elements,” says James H. Barrett, a University of Cambridge environmental archaeologist and study co-author. “Fieldwork is hard work—hiking with all our equipment, often camping on permafrost—but very rewarding. [You’re] rescuing the archaeology, bringing the melting ice to wider attention, discovering a unique environmental history and really connecting with the natural environment,”
The team has been continuing on its quest despite the harsh conditions and continues to do so. You can see some of the discoveries in the video below: