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Artifacts from the “Late Antique Little Ice Age” Shed New Light on Ancient Life

When news of an archaeological trove of objects breaks, we often see images of half-discernible tools and bits of bone. But, in the frozen mountains of Oppland in Norway, a group of scientists has uncovered a truly stunning batch of objects all preserved in ice for hundreds or thousands of years.

Among the most interesting pieces found at the site are several metal arrowheads, a tremendous Viking sword, and an extremely well-preserved Viking tunic – all from the Iron Age.

The Glacier Archaeology Program and the Secrets of the Ice project aim to show the world what exactly has been uncovered as the ancient glaciers of Norway melt with increasing global temperatures. Researchers have described the melting ice as a “mixed blessing.” To date they have found more than 2,000 artifacts, of which 153 have been accurately dated.

What’s really interesting is that not all of the objects date from the same time periods, showing that human activity in the region was on again/ off again for thousands of years as the glaciers changed.

The objects were embedded in the ice and literally frozen in time for centuries! As the glaciers melt, archaeologists are able to collect these precious artifacts from the edges of glaciers.

The majority of artifacts date from the Late Antique Little Ice Age, a 125-year-long cold spell caused by a series of volcanic eruptions that devastated many nations from 536 to 660 AD.

With so many objects found from this time period in the area scientists now believe that people might have gathered there in order to hunt reindeer – particularly if crops were scarce during the mini ice age. It’s rare that items like tunics, mittens, and arrow shafts are so well-preserved. We have the ice to thank for that!

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