As global warming intensifies, glaciers around the world are melting like never before. Melting glaciers in Norway have revealed a previously unknown mountain pass, with hundreds of Viking artifacts lying on it.
Researchers discovered the mountain pass back in 2011 and they have been examining the area ever since. Each year, the melting glaciers reveal some new findings. Scientists managed to date the objects, which also indicated around what time the pass was actually in use. A new study was published recently in the journal Antiquity.
Be it Antarctica or Alaska, melting glaciers are revealing new things every year. And this mountain pass and its artifacts were found in Lendbreen in Norway. Lars Pilø is the author of the study and also the co-director of the Glacier Archaeology Program. He mentioned in a statement: “A lost mountain pass melting out of the ice is a dream discovery for us glacial archaeologists.” He further mentioned how, “In such passes, past travelers left behind lots of artifacts, frozen in time by the ice. These incredibly well-preserved artifacts of organic materials have great historical value.”
The mountain pass has been dated back to the Roman Iron Age. It was probably in use from 300 AD to 1000 AD, which is the Viking Age. horseshoes, bones of packhorses, fragments from sleds, and a runes-inscribed walking stick were among the things found in the pass. These mostly indicate the use of transportation on the mountain pass. Some other items along the road were a knife with a wooden handle, a wooden needle, a wooden whisk, and a tinderbox.
Apart from these common items, some extraordinary ones were also found. A Viking mitten, blue textile rags, and a full Roman Iron Age tunic were all preserved in the glaciers.
Espen Finstad is another co-author of the study and a co-director of the Glacier Program. Finstad says, “The preservation of the objects emerging from the ice is just stunning. It is like they were lost a short time ago, not centuries or millennia ago.”
From the items found in the melting glaciers, scientists believe the pass was used to access livestock farms on higher grounds. The pass was also used for trade and travel, where goods like pelts and antlers were exported out of Norway.
Man-made piles of stones were used as markers on the route. A permanent shelter was also present, according to the ruins found. The mountain pass must have been used for over 700 years.
James H. Barrett, another co-author said, “When the use of the pass intensified around AD 1000, during the Viking Age, it was a time of increased mobility, political centralization and growing trade and urbanization in Northern Europe.”
“The decline of the Lendbreen pass was probably caused by a combination of economic changes, climate change, and late medieval pandemics, including the Black Death,” Pilø said. “When the local area recovered, things had changed, and the Lendbreen pass was lost to memory.”
Scientists have been working on the site since 2011. But the new study includes only the findings made till 2015. More ice has been steadily melting and a chunk of melting glaciers was lost in 2019. This revealed artifacts on another nearby pass, about 6 miles to the west of this mountain pass.
Finstad said how this new pass was littered with horse dung and artifacts. The melting glaciers revealed a domesticated dog’s bones, with collar and leash. A horse snowshoe was also found along with a wooden box whose lid was still on!
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All Images Credit: Secrets Of The Ice