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Cacciatori norvegesi di 6.000 anni fa


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ARES III

PORTATI ALLA LUCE GLI SPETTACOLARI STRUMENTI DI CACCIA UTILIZZATI 6000 ANNI FA IN NORVEGIA

 

A causa dello scioglimento del ghiaccio, in Norvegia, sono stati portati alla luce tantissimi manufatti degli antichi uomini che vivevano in questi luoghi. Per l'esattezza sono state trovate 68 frecce e molti altri oggetti da un antico sito di caccia alle renne. I primi oggetti risalgono a 6.000 anni fa.

 

"È il sito di ghiaccio al mondo con il maggior numero di frecce", scrive l'archeologo Lars Pilø, del Dipartimento dei Beni Culturali. "Fare ricerca sul campo qui e trovare tutte le frecce è stata un'esperienza incredibile, il sogno di un archeologo". Scoperte del genere ultimamente vengono fatte sempre più spesso, a causa dello scioglimento dei ghiacci.

 

La maggior parte delle frecce risalgono al tardo neolitico (2400-1750 a.C.) e alla tarda età del ferro (550-1050 d.C.). Per quanto riguarda la ricostruzione dell'area dalle scoperte, i ricercatori hanno dovuto prendere in considerazione molti fattori diversi: il movimento del ghiaccio e dell'acqua di fusione, l'impatto dei venti, l'esposizione e così via.

 

"È importante tenere presente che le placche di ghiaccio non sono i tuoi siti archeologici regolari", scrive Pilø. "Si trovano in alta montagna in un ambiente freddo e ostile". La zona di ghiaccio di Langfonne è ora meno di un terzo delle dimensioni di 20 anni fa e si è divisa in tre sezioni separate. I ricercatori pensano che la caccia alle renne si sia intensificata appena prima dell'era vichinga (intorno all'800 d.C.), ma c'è ancora molto da imparare.

https://tech.everyeye.it/amp/notizie/portati-luce-spettacolari-antichi-strumenti-caccia-norvegia-483735.html

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ARES III

A Viking Archaeologist Shares 6 of the Most Fascinating Finds From a Slew of Recent Discoveries Made in Melting Ice

Archaeologist Lars Pilø shares how Vikings would have used some of the recently discovered artifacts.

Global warming has unlocked hundreds of Viking artifacts from the ice of the Norwegian mountains in recent years.

In November, archaeologists from the Secret of the Ice project, part of Norway’s Glacier Archaeology Program, discovered 68 arrows spanning a period of 6,000 years—a record for any frozen archaeological site—on the Langfonne ice patch, an ancient Viking hunting ground.

A few months earlier, scientists announced discoveries that had been frozen in the rapidly melting Lendbreen ice patch, which was once part of a Viking trade route.

Ice patches tend to preserve artifacts frozen inside them, but they grow and shrink with the seasons, allowing melt water to displace objects from where they were originally lost.

 

We get angry reactions to our finds from climate science deniers all the time,” Lars Pilø, the lead archaeologist on the Secret of the Ice project, told Artnet News. “The whole idea that one can disprove the climate science behind global warming with archaeological finds shows a stunning level of ignorance.”

A 1300-year-old arrow from the peak period of hunting at the Langfonne ice patch. Photo courtesy of Secrets of the Ice.

A 1,300-year-old arrow from the peak period of hunting at the Langfonne ice patch. Photo courtesy of Secrets of the Ice.

The newest arrows were the best preserved, while the oldest arrows had been displaced due to seasonal melting over the millennia and were heavily damaged from exposure to the elements.

 

The ice patch, which first formed around 5,600 BC, currently measures just 30 percent of the area it covered 30 years ago, and 10 percent of its size during the Little Ice Age that ended in the mid 1800s. As melting accelerates, archaeologists are in a race against time to recover artifacts as they are freed from the ice, before they dry out and rapidly begin to deteriorate.

We spoke to Pilø about some of the most interesting artifacts recovered from the ice in recent years, how Vikings used the items, and what they tell us about the mountain pass and the people who traveled over it.

A Complete Tinderbox

A tinderbox found in the Lendbreen pass. Photo by Espen Finstad, courtesy of Secrets of the Ice.

A tinderbox found in the Lendbreen pass. Photo by Espen Finstad, courtesy of Secrets of the Ice.

“The tinderbox contained a wooden stick and small bits of resin-filled wood. It is not dated or analyzed yet. It is probably an accidental loss, since it is complete. We think that it is likely to date to the Viking Age or the Medieval Period (500 to 1000 years old), but it could also be younger—or older.”

 

A Horse Snowshoe

The horse snowshoe found in the Lendbreen pass. Photo by Espen Finstad, courtesy of Secrets of the Ice.

The horse snowshoe found in the Lendbreen pass. Photo by Espen Finstad, courtesy of Secrets of the Ice.

“Horse snowshoes are known from historical sources. However, to our knowledge, this is the first horse snowshoe found on an archaeological site. We have two more such snowshoes from Lendbreen that are less well preserved. The snowshoe was used when the snow was either powdery or rotten, so winter or spring/early summer. They are not necessary when the snow is firm. Losing one of them would make crossing the snow more difficult, depending on the snow conditions.”

The Lendbreen Tunic

The Lendbreen tunic, which dates to the year 300, is the oldest piece of clothing ever found in Norway. Photo courtesy of Secrets of the Ice.

The Lendbreen tunic, which dates to the year 300, is the oldest piece of clothing ever found in Norway. Photo courtesy of Secrets of the Ice.

“The tunic is made from wool, which was spun and woven. It survived because it has been inside the ice for most of time since it was lost. Clothing is also known from glaciated mountain passes in the Alps. One reason they were left there could be hypothermia. When people are freezing to death, they become very warm in the final stage, which can lead to undressing—a paradoxical behavior.”

 

A Kitchen Whisk

A wooden whisk, radiocarbon-dated to the 11th century AD. It was perhaps secondarily used as a tent peg, as such whisks were rarely pointed. Photo courtesy of Secrets of the Ice.

A wooden whisk, radiocarbon-dated to the 11th century AD found in the Lendbreen pass. It was perhaps secondarily used as a tent peg, as such whisks were rarely pointed. Photo courtesy of Secrets of the Ice.

“The whisk is a kitchen utensil used for stirring [foods like] porridge. It is probably an accidental loss on the route between the main farm and the summer farm. Such whisks are still made today, but they are usually not pointed, so this artifact may have been used secondarily for another purpose, perhaps as a tent peg.”

 

A Goat Bit

A wooden bit for a goat kid or lamb, radiocarbon-dated to the 11th century AD. Photo courtesy of Secrets of the Ice.

A wooden bit for a goat kid or lamb, radiocarbon-dated to the 11th century AD, found in the Lendbreen pass. Photo courtesy of Secrets of the Ice.

“It is a bit for young animals, mainly goat kids and lambs, to stop them from getting milk from their mothers. Identified by local elders, who used such bits (in juniper) until the 1930s. Ours is also in juniper, but radiocarbon-dated to the 11th century AD. It is a testimony to farm animals having used the Lendbreen pass”

 

A Birch Distaff

A distaff found in the Lendbreen pass. Photo by Espen Finstad, courtesy of Secrets of the Ice.

A distaff found in the Lendbreen pass. Photo by Espen Finstad, courtesy of Secrets of the Ice.

“This distaff is made from birch and is 1200 years old. It’s from the pass area at Lendbreen. A similar distaff has been found in the Oseberg Viking ship burial. Distaffs are tools used to hold the wool while it is being spun. Perhaps someone was spinning wool while walking the long route between the farm and the summer farm? Or it could have been an accidental loss.”

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/most-fascinating-viking-artifact-discoveries-1939220/amp-page

 

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ARES III

6,000 years of arrows emerge from melting Norwegian ice patch

The record-setting discovery of 68 projectiles from the Neolithic to the Viking Era also upends ideas on how ice both preserves and destroys archaeological finds.

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A researcher examines a wooden arrow shaft that emerged from the Langfonne ice patch in Norway. Radiocarbon dating is used to determine the age of many objects once trapped within the now-melting ice.

GLACIER ARCHAEOLOGY PROGRAM, INNLANDET COUNTY COUNCIL

 

Archaeologists in Norway have discovered dozens of arrows—some dating back 6,000 years—melting out of a 60-acre ice patch in the county’s high mountains.

 

Expeditions to survey the Langfonne ice patch in 2014 and 2016, both particularly warm summers, also revealed copious reindeer bones and antlers, suggesting that hunters used the ice patch over the course of millennia. Their hunting technique stayed the same even as the weapons they used evolved from stone and river shell arrowheads to iron points.

Now the research team is revealing the finds in a paper published today in the journal Holocene. A record-setting total of 68 complete and partial arrows (and five arrowheads) were ultimately discovered by the team on and around the melting ice patch–more than archaeologists have recovered from any other frozen site in the world. Some of the projectiles date to the Neolithic period while the most “recent” finds are from the 14th century A.D.

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The upper part of the melting Langfonne ice patch as viewed by helicopter. Researchers estimate that Langfonne today is half the size it was in the late 1990s—and a tenth of its extent during the Little Ice Age, a centuries-long dip in global temperatures that lasted from about A.D. 1300 into the 1800s.

GLACIER ARCHAEOLOGY PROGRAM, INNLANDET COUNTY COUNCIL

While the sheer number of historical projectiles is stunning, the Langfonne discoveries are also upending generally accepted ideas in the relatively new specialty of ice-patch archaeology, and yielding new clues as to ice’s potential to preserve or destroy evidence from the past over the course of thousands of years.

An icy ‘time machine’?

Since archaeologists started systematically surveying melting ice sites 15 years ago, ice patches from Norway to North America have yielded almost perfectly-preserved artifacts from long-ago 

time periods. In isolation, the individual finds contain information about craftsmanship and long-ago hunting traditions.

 
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Langfonne, in fact, was one of the 

first ice patch sites to come to light, after a local hiker discovered a 3,300-year-old leather shoe sitting next to the edge of the ice patch in the summer of 2006 and reported it to archaeologist Lars Pilø, now a researcher at the Innlandet County Council Cultural Heritage Department and a co-author of the new study.

Ever since that discovery alerted Pilø to the possibility of artifacts preserved in mountain ice patches, researchers in Norway and beyond—there are similar sites in Canada’s Yukon, the Rockies in the U.S. and the Alps in Europe—have wondered if the distribution of objects on and around the ice might tell them about how and when the ice patch sites were used and how they grew over time.

 

Unlike glaciers, which are essentially slow-moving frozen rivers, ice patches are fixed deposits of snow and ice that may grow and shrink over time. Sites like Langfonne, researchers assumed, resemble a patch of snow at the end of winter: As temperatures increase, artifacts trapped inside melt out in the order they were deposited.

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A Viking-era arrow foreshaft found at Langfonne features a preserved iron arrowhead with sinew and birch-bark lashings.

Another Viking-age arrow from Langfonne also features an iron arrowhead with sinew and birch-bark lashings.

MUSEUM OF CULTURAL HISTORY/UNIVERSITY OF OSLO

 

The idea was, ice is like a time machine. Anything that lands on it stays there and is protected,” Pilø says.

 

That meant the oldest items would be found in the deepest core of the ice patch, in the same way that archaeologists working with artifacts buried in soil assume lower layers of dirt contain older artifacts. And because the ice patches were thought to grow steadily with each winter’s snowfall, more recent finds would be closer to the edges of the patch.

If ice patches froze artifacts exactly where they were lost, archaeologists theorized, those items could help reconstruct what people did there in the past, how big the ice patches were at specific points in prehistory, and how fast they grew and shrank over time.

The Langfonne arrows seemed like a way to test the time-machine theory.

The arrows and reindeer bones confirmed earlier suspicions that Norway’s high mountain ice patches were reindeer-hunting hotspots: When the cold-loving creatures retreated to the ice to avoid biting insects during the summer months, people followed with bows, arrows, and hunting knives.

But after radiocarbon dating all the arrows and gathering dozens more dates from reindeer remains they found on the ice, the researchers realized that, at Langfonne at least, the time-machine theory was unreliable. Researchers expected that the oldest items would be trapped in place from the day they were lost and preserved just as well as artifacts buried in the ice in later centuries. But the oldest artifacts at Langfonne, which date back to the Neolithic, were fragmented and heavily weathered, as though they’d been churned by the ice or exposed to sun and wind for years.

Arrows from later periods, like the 1,500-year-old arrow that used a sharpened mussel shell harvested from a river at least 50 miles away, looked as though they were shot just yesterday. “That raises the suspicion something happened inside the ice” that exposed and re-froze the older items, Pilø says.

And the arrows didn’t seem to be emerging in any particular order, as you’d expect if the ice formed perfect layers over time. Arrows made thousands of years apart were lying not far from each other along the ice edge. “The idea that you find the oldest evidence when the ice patch is at its smallest—that isn’t really true,” says Montana State Parks archaeologist Rachel Reckin, who was not part of the research team. “It looks like gravity and water are moving artifacts down a great deal.”

Co-author Atle Nesje, a glaciologist at the University of Bergen, says that thousands of years ago, warm summers probably exposed older artifacts, which were carried to the edge of the ice patch by streams of meltwater before freezing again. The weight of ice pressing down on lower layers might have caused them to shift, carrying their frozen contents with them. Or lightweight wooden arrow shafts might have been blown across the surface by fierce winds before getting lodged in rocks or getting covered again by snow. Arrows lost in the snow more recently, meanwhile, might have 

stayed in place.

Because old arrows might be washed down by meltwater and then re-freeze, the spot where they were found could be a long way from where they originally landed. That meant using radiocarbon dated arrows to map the size of the ice patch in the past was a dead end. “Glaciologists and ice patch archaeologists were hoping that artifacts could give us an idea of the size over time, but that’s not the case,” Reckin says.

Wolverines and Vikings

Researchers were pleasantly surprised that the Langfonne arrows, once dated, could provide useful clues to how people used the ice patch over time. During certain periods, for instance, the team found lots of reindeer bones but very few arrows. That suggests people weren’t hunting on the ice; instead, reindeer were probably being killed by wolverines, which bury their carcasses in the snow to eat later.

Between A.D. 600 and 1300—roughly the Viking Age—radiocarbon dating revealed a different type of activity on the Langfonne patch. “There’s a lot of arrow finds, but hardly any reindeer material,” Pilø says. “That’s not a coincidence.” Humans were hard at work removing slain reindeer from the ice, harvesting their fur and antlers to sell as trade goods.

 

The rapidly changing understanding of the ice and the secrets it holds matches the speed at which the ice is disappearing. “I’ve been studying Norwegian glaciers for the last 40 years. It’s a lot of change,” says Nesje. “It’s quite scary to see how fast the ice patches can melt away, from one day to another.”

Based on lichen growth on the rocks around the ice patch, Nesje estimates that Langfonne today is half the size it was in the late 1990s—and a tenth of its extent during the Little Ice Age, a centuries-long dip in global temperatures that lasted from about 1300 AD into the 1800s.

The steady melting means archaeologists have to move fast while preserving as much information as possible. “Time is of the essence, and we’re trying to be good scientists while doing the best we can with the data we have,” Reckin says. “Every piece of this puzzle that helps us understand the complexity of these processes is really helpful.” 

https://api.nationalgeographic.com/distribution/public/amp/science/2020/11/6000-years-arrows-emerge-melting-norway-ice-patch

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