An 18th-century ship under the world trade center new york

An 18th-century ship under the world trade center new york

In the midst of this tragic event and chaos, however, cleanups found something amazing in the attack on the World Trade Center (WTC), took place on 11 September 2001.

Archaeologists found the remains of a big boat’s hull underneath the ruins of the Twin Towers in 2010.  Now, scientists have revealed the secrets behind this mysterious vessel.

Underneath the excavation site, the ship was found in the wreckage, some 22 feet (6.7 m) underneath the ground. By gathering samples and testing the wood from the hull of the ship, scientists were able to determine that the hull came from the same era as the Declaration of Independence, in the late 1700s.

Scientists at Columbia’s Tree Ring Lab, who were led by Dr. Martin-Benito, made this determination after comparing the wood’s ring patterns, which were found on the timber of the hull, with those found in the historical record.

The researchers used dendrochronological dating and provenancing to uncover the date of the ships’ production. More specifically, it seems that the ship was built in a Philadelphia shipyard around 1773.

Image of the Hull in the wreckage.

It also seems that the oak timbers that were used to build the ship all originated from the same general region in Philadelphia. Since the timber all comes from the same vicinity, it is likely that the ship was produced by a small shipyard.

Most notably, the researchers found that the rings on the hull match other samples that were taken from Independence Hall, which is the building where the founding fathers signed both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. In the abstract, the authors of the findings report:

After developing a 280-year long floating chronology from 19 samples of the white oak group (Quercus section Leucobalanus), we used 21 oak chronologies from the eastern United States to evaluate absolute dating and provenance.

Our results showed the highest agreement between the WTC ship chronology and two chronologies from Philadelphia (r  =  0.36; t  =  6.4; p < 0.001; n  =  280) and eastern Pennsylvania (r  =  0.35; t  =  6.3; p < 0.001; n  =  280). The last ring dates of the seven best-preserved samples suggest trees for the ship were felled in 1773 CE or soon after.

This finding is notable, as very few ships have been discovered from the latter decades of the 18th Century, and there is very little historical documentation related to how the ships that were produced during this year were constructed.

Consequently, this ship offers us important insights into the history of American shipbuilding.

So, how did the ship get beneath the WTC? It’s actually not as strange as you might think. When Manhattan (where the WTC was located) was first settled, the site lay within the Hudson River.

To clarify, in the 18th century, the current location of the WTC would have been underwater—beneath the Hudson.

Maps and other archival documents clearly detail this data. Obviously, as the settlement became more populated, commercial waterfront space became increasingly desirable and (consequentially) more and more scarce.

As a result, from the mid-1700s until the mid-1800s, the area along the river was increasingly filled in to advance the Manhattan coastline farther into the Hudson.

Historians still aren’t certain whether or not the ship sank accidentally, because of some unintentional mishap, or if it was purposely submerged.

Oftentimes, city planners would use garbage and other debris (like an old ship) to build the foundations of new ground in Manhattan. Essentially, we would make landfills along the Hudson in order to create a buildup that would, ultimately, increase Manhattan’s coastline.

Oysters were also found fixed to the ship’s hull, which suggests that the ship languished in the waters of the Hudson for quite some time before being buried by layers of trash and dirt that (eventually) formed the land upon which the Twin Towers rested.

It is a little ironic that the World Trade Center attack—the historic moment that reshaped much of America’s future—also opened up a door into America’s past.

Over 6000 ancient tombs discovered by archaeologists in China

Over 6000 ancient tombs discovered by archaeologists in China

CHENGDU, May 14 (Xinhua) — More than 6,000 ancient tombs dating back between the Warring States Period (475 B.C.-221 B.C.) and the Ming Dynasty (1368―1644)have been discovered in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, local archaeological authorities said Thursday.

In China, archaeologists have found thousands of burials on a cliff. The burial ground was in use for over 2000 years. Many important historical artifacts have been uncovered in the tombs.

These graves could allow experts to trace the evolution of Chinese burial customs and indeed offer priceless insights into the culture’s religious beliefs over many centuries.

These tombs were found in the provincial capital of Sichuan, Chengdu, which is in the south-west of the People’s Republic.

The discoveries were made inside the Chuanxin Innovative Science and Technology Park during construction work in 2015.

Archaeologists from Chengdu Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute, led by Zuo Zhiqiang, carried out a dig at the site and identified a large number of burials. reports that the tombs cover an ‘area of 10.34 square meters’ (111 sq. ft.) The burials are cut into the face and on the top of a cliff.

The tombs have been cut into the red earth of the cliff. Heritage Daily reports that they are mostly ‘rock pit tombs or constructed from brick’. Some of the tombs have to be supported with wood so they do not collapse. So far, archaeologists have uncovered 6000 burial spaces of different sizes.

This burial site dates from the Warring States period (475 BC), the period before the unification of China to the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912 AD), the last Chinese dynasty.

The discovery can provide an insight into the history and burial customs of Sichuan. This region played a very important part in Chinese history and it was often the base for rebellious generals and independent empires, such as the Shu dynasty.

6000 tombs have been discovered cut into the cliffs.

The archaeologists discovered many artifacts that can provide them with clues to ancient Chinese burial customs. For example, they uncovered terracotta pottery and figurines. Ceramic figures of humans and also animals, such as ducks, were unearthed.

According to Heritage Daily, the excavators also uncovered ‘pieces of pottery, porcelain, copper, iron, glass, coins and stone artifacts’. Among the rarer finds are a bronze knife, statues of the Buddha, and some painted miniature ceramic houses and buildings.

Artifacts such as figurines can provide more insight into ancient Chinese burial customs

Xinhua. Net reports that in ancient China ‘people had the tradition of giving the deceased luxurious burials’. It seemed that the deceased family placed the grave goods in the tombs so that they could use them in the afterlife.

In Chinese burial customs, lavish offerings have been a sign of social status. This practice has taken place since the imperial period and continues today.

One of the rich burials found at the cliff site. 

What is unique about the burial site is that all of the graves were left intact and were undisturbed for centuries. Xinhua reports that burials ‘of that period were typically robbed by modern-day tomb raiders.’ What is more, the grave goods were still in their original positions and this can help the researchers to better understand the evolution of Chinese funerary customs.

One particularly important find was from the late or Eastern Han (25-220 AD) period or after, which has been called the M94 Cliff Tomb. Here researchers have found 86 burial goods and hundreds of coins from the period.

The tomb clearly belonged to a person of high social rank. Zuo Zhiqiang told Heritage Daily, “The tomb will help us to construct the archaeological cultural sequence and the funeral behaviors, rituals, and concepts of the Shudiya tombs in the late Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms period .”

Aerial view of the M94 cliff tomb, including skeletons and grave goods.

Work is ongoing at the tomb cliffs and it is hoped that more treasures will be found at the site to reveal even more secrets of ancient Chinese burial customs. More findings from the research will be announced in the near future. The site at Chengdu can help us comprehend the worldview and funerary beliefs of people over an incredibly long period of time.

Underwater robot finds shipwreck with treasure worth up to $17B

Underwater robot finds shipwreck with treasure worth up to $17B

Researchers have released new details about the discovery of a centuries-old shipwreck holding up to $17 billion worth of sunken treasure off the coast of Colombia. Just don’t ask them to mark the spot with an “X” on any map.

The Spanish galleon San Jose, often called the “Holy Grail of shipwrecks,” was found off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia in November 2015, using a specialized robot, scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said.

WHOI scientists worked with the Colombian government and the Maritime Archeology Consultants group to find the wreck, although it took them some time to confirm that it was actually the San Jose.

MAC allowed the WHOI researchers to announce their role in the project this week, although Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos previously tweeted about the shipwreck discovery in 2015.

The famed 64-gun, the three-mast vessel was sunk by a British ship in 1708, sending it to the bottom of the ocean with its cargo hold loaded full of gold, silver, and emeralds.

Its location has long been a mystery and subject of fascination, but in the end, it was a submersible robot – not a treasure-hunter – that found it.

Researchers first detected the ship on sonar and used a remote submersible, dubbed the REMUS 6000, to investigate it further.

The REMUS 6000 captured a slew of images showing the San Jose to be mostly buried in sediment, at a spot some 600 meters below the surface.

Researchers say they knew it was the San Jose when they saw photos of its distinctive bronze cannons, which are engraved with dolphin designs.

“With the camera images from the lower altitude missions, we were able to see new details in the wreckage and the resolution was good enough to make out the decorative carving on the cannons,” expedition leader Mike Purcell, a WHOI engineer, said in a news release. “MAC’s lead archaeologist, Roger Dooley, interpreted the images and confirmed that San Jose had finally been found.”

Bronze cannons discovered the Remus 6000 at the bottom Caribbean Sea

The exact location of the wreck remains a Colombian state secret.

Colombia says it will set up a museum to display artifacts from the wreck. However, don’t expect to see a pile of sunken treasure in that museum anytime soon.

The fate of San Jose’s treasure remains unclear, as there have been several lawsuits in recent decades over who has a claim to it.

Every piece of that treasure will remain on the seafloor, at least until the legal battle is won.

Hillfort revealed to be the largest Pictish site ever discovered in Scotland

Hillfort revealed to be the largest Pictish site ever discovered in Scotland

The fort, overlooking the small village of Rhynie, is believed to be one of the largest ancient settlements ever discovered in Scotland.

Researchers think that as many as 4,000 people may have lived in more than 800 huts on the Tap O’Noth in the fifth to sixth centuries.

However, the settlement may date back as far as the third century, which would make it Pictish in origin.

Researchers excavating around a construction at the Tap o’ Noth site.

The Aberdeenshire settlement may, in fact, date back as far as the third century, meaning it is likely to be Pictish in origin.

The Picts were a collection of Celtic-speaking communities who lived in the east and north of Scotland during the Late British Iron Age and Early Medieval periods.

The "Craw Stane", a Pictish symbol stone depicting a salmon and an unknown animal, with Tap o’ Noth in background.
The “Craw Stane”, a Pictish symbol stone depicting a salmon and an unknown animal, with Tap o’ Noth in background.

It was previously thought that settlements of that size did not appear until about the 12th century.

At its height, it may have rivalled the largest known post-Roman settlements in Europe.

Archaeologists from the University of Aberdeen used radiocarbon dating to establish timeframes.

Judging by the distribution of the buildings, they are likely to have been built and occupied at a similar time.

Many are positioned alongside trackways or clustered together in groups, the University of Aberdeen said.

Drone surveys showed one hut that was notably larger, suggesting a hierarchy.

The site is near Rhynie in Aberdeenshire

Professor Gordon Noble, who led the research, said the discovery was “truly mind-blowing”, adding that it “shakes the narrative of this whole time period”.

He continued: “The size of the upper and lower forts together are around 16.75 hectares and one phase at least dates from the fifth to sixth centuries AD.

“This makes it bigger than anything we know from early medieval Britain.

“The previous biggest known fort in early medieval Scotland is Burghead at around five and a half hectares, and in England, famous post-Roman sites such as Cadbury Castle is seven hectares and Tintagel around five hectares.”

He said the site was “verging on urban in scale and in a Pictish context we have nothing else that compares to this”.

The Mystery Of Cahokia Mounds, North America’s First City

The Mystery Of Cahokia Mounds, North America’s First City

Long before Christopher Columbus “discovered” North America, the mounds of Cahokia stood tall and formed the continent’s first city in recorded history.

In fact, during its height in the 12th century, Cahokia Mounds was larger in population than London. It spread across six square miles and boasted a population of 10,000 to 20,000 people — vast figures for the time.

But Cahokia’s peak didn’t last long. And its demise remains mysterious to this day.

An illustrated aerial view of Cahokia.

The region has been occupied for the first time around 1200 BC in the late Archaic period but the first inhabitants in the area are thought to have arrived in the late woodland period around AD 600–700.

It is founded around AD 1050 in what is now western Illinois by archaeological evidence.

Cahokia at its peak was the largest urban center north of Central America’s Mesoamerican civilization with a population of 20,000 inhabitants, although the extent of the population at its highest is still disputed.

Monks Mound, the largest manmade pre-Columbian earthen mound in North America.

The city covered an area between six to nine square miles, notably larger than many contemporary European cities such as London, which during the same period was just 1.12 square miles.

The inhabitants constructed 120 earthen mounds, ranging in size and shape from raised platforms, conical, and ridge-top designs that involved moving 55 million cubic feet of earth over a period several decades.

They constructed ceremonial plazas, situated around the mounds that were interconnected with pathways, courtyards and thousands of dwellings made from wattle and daub, with outlying farming villages that supported the main urban centre.

The largest structure at Cahokia is “Monks Mound” (named after a community of Trappist monks who settled on the mound) which is a 290-metre-tall platform with four terraces that was built around AD 900–955.

An 1882 illustration of Monks Mound

The perimeter of the base of Monks Mound measures similar in size to the Great Pyramid of Giza and is notably larger than the base of the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan.

Surrounding the main precinct was a defensive wooden palisade measuring 2 miles in length with watchtowers, that was built around the year AD 1200.

Although there is no archaeological evidence of conflict, some theories suggest that the defences were built for ritual or societal separation rather than for military purposes.

Cahokia began to decline by the 13th century and was mysteriously abandoned around AD 1300-1350.

Scholars have suggested that environmental factors such as flooding, or deforestation led to an exhaustion of natural resources.

In 1982, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) designated the site a World Heritage Site.

This Gecko Has Been Trapped In Amber For 100 Million Years

This Gecko Has Been Trapped In Amber For 100 Million Years

Researchers at the University of Oregon state and the Natural History Museum in London confirmed that they had found the oldest known gecko fossil with life-like pieces after 100 million years of the amber-buried skeleton.

This ancient chameleon relative is the oldest found to date, beating out the previous title-holder by roughly 80 million years.

The tiny foot of this ancient lizard also displays the tiny “lamellae” or sticky headdress hairs, that to this day give modern geckos their unusual ability to cling to surfaces or run across a ceiling. Research programs around the world have tried to mimic this bizarre adhesive capability, with limited success.

This gecko’s running days are over, however, as only the foot, toes, and part of a tail are left in the stone. The rest might have become lunch for a small dinosaur or another predator during an ancient fight in the tropical forests of Myanmar during the Lower Cretaceous Period, from 97 million to 110 million years ago.

These ancient amber fossils from Burma in Southeast Asia help complete the patchy record of lizard evolution.

The find is at least 40 million years older than the oldest known gecko fossil, shedding additional light on the evolution and history of these ancient lizards that scampered among the feet of giant dinosaurs then and still are common in tropical or sub-tropical regions all over the world.

The findings were just published in Zootaxa, a professional journal.

“It’s the unusual toe pads and clinging ability of some geckos that make them such a fascinating group of animals, so we were very fortunate to find such a well-preserved foot in this fossil specimen,” said George Poinar, Jr., a courtesy professor at OSU and one of the world’s leading experts on insects, plants and other life forms trapped in amber, a semi-precious stone that begins as tree sap.

“There’s a gecko society, gecko clubs, just a lot of interest in these animals because of their unusual characteristics,” Poinar said. “So there are a lot of people pretty excited about this.”

Based on the number of lamellae found on its toe pads, this gecko was probably a very small juvenile of what would have become a comparatively large adult, possibly up to a foot long, the researchers say. Modern geckos get no more than about 16 inches long, although it’s possible there were larger species millions of years ago.

The juvenile gecko found in the fossil was less than an inch in length when it died – possibly by being eaten or attacked since only partial remains were found.

The discovery has been announced as a new genus and species of gecko, now extinct, and has been named Cretaceogekko. It had a striped pattern that probably served as camouflage.

There are more than 1,200 species of geckos in the world today, common in warm or tropical regions, including parts of the southern United States. They are frequently kept as pets, and often are welcome in the homes of some tropical residents because they help control insects. Some are very colorful. They use long tongues to lick, clean, and moisturize their eyes.

“Geckos are territorial, and when I lived in Africa in the early 1980s we used to have them in our house,” Poinar said. “They are pretty friendly and don’t bother humans. Certain individuals would move into the house, we’d give them names, and they would run around the house, catch mosquitoes, help control bugs. They would crawl across the ceiling and look down at you.”

The new study provides evidence that geckos were definitely in Asia by 100 million years ago, and had already evolved their bizarre foot structure at that time. The amber fossil was mined in the Hukawng Valley in Myanmar, and during its life, the gecko probably lived in a moist, tropical forest with ample opportunities for climbing.

3D printing the fossils allow researchers to study them without risking damage to the originals. They can also enlarge the printed fossils to get a look at minute details.
This 3D print of the early gecko trapped in amber gives a much clearer view of the lizard’s remarkable preservation—right down to its teeth.
This micro-CT scan of the oldest known fossil chameleon shows the hyoid bone highlighted in blue, which indicates that the lizard had a projectile tongue like modern chameleons.

The ability of geckos to walk on vertical walls or even upside down is due to the presence of thousands of “setae” on their toes, very tiny, hairlike structures that have tips which attach to surfaces by van der Walls forces. It’s a type of incredibly strong, dry adhesion shared by virtually no other group of animals.

It’s not known exactly how old this group of animals is, and when they evolved their adhesive toe pads. However, the new study makes it clear that this ability was in place at least 100 million years ago, in nature. Modern research programs still have not been able to completely duplicate it.

Scientists at the University of California at Berkeley reported earlier this year that they have developed a new “anti-sliding” adhesive that they said was the closest man-made material yet to mimic the ability of geckos – they think it might help a robot climb up the side of walls. A research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this year created a waterproof adhesive bandage inspired by geckos, that may someday be used in surgery. And of course, geckos have become an advertising icon for the insurance company Geico.

This study is just one of many in which Poinar and colleagues have used the unusual characteristics of amber to study ancient life forms and develop information on the ecology of ancient ecosystems.

As a stone that first begins to form as sap oozing from a tree, amber can trap small insects or other life forms and preserve them in near-perfect detail for observation millions of years later.

Armchair archaeologists are discovering ancient historic sites during the lockdown

Armchair archaeologists are discovering ancient historic sites during the lockdown

Volunteer archaeologists working from home are revealing hitherto uncharted prehistoric burial mounds,  Roman roads, and medieval farms, using LiDAR technology. This just goes to show what can be achieved working from home during a pandemic, history in the making. Businesses and companies have all had to make changes during this time, meaning that software has been updated and implemented across the board, including updating communication areas for workers to have access to, meaning that shares in software such as Slack (Slack Aktie kaufen) have gone up for the benefit of home workers.

A probable Iron Age or Roman enclosed settlement (red arrows) and associated field system (blue arrows) revealed by LiDAR data but hidden today beneath woodland.

An innovative project is underway integrating scientific research with the power of the public. Led by Dr. Smart and Dr. João Fonte from the University of Exeter, and working closely with Cornwall and Devon Historic Environment Record, citizens were called on to search databases of aerial images while on coronavirus lockdown and they revealed “roads, burial mounds, and settlements – all while working from home,” according to a report in the Heritagedaily.

These topographical images of the Tamar valley, that highlight hidden features and with historic maps of the area, have been cross-referenced by amateur archaeologists. Lead researchers Dr. Chris Smart also said that they “draw the archeological map of the South West’ to get a clearer understanding of the history of the regions over thousands of years.

A section of a probable Roman road. The road’s ‘agger’ – the raised metalled surface – shows as a straight pale line (red arrows). A line of quarry pits show as black spots (blue arrows) possibly used to gather material for the road

The sites were not released because of the possibility that treasure hunters could enter the sites prior to being properly given access, but they are all in the Tamar Valley. The team found parts of two Roman roads with about 30 large, prehistoric or Roman settlement enclosures, about 20 prehistoric burial mounds, as well as the remains of hundreds of medieval farms, field systems, and quarries. 

Those leading the project believe they will make many more discoveries in the coming weeks as more images are reviewed – potentially hundreds of new sites. The team, led by Dr. Smart from the University of Exeter, are analyzing images from technology used to create detailed topographical maps by the Environment Agency.

Modern vegetation and buildings can be removed from the data, allowing archaeologists to look at the shape of the land surface to find the remains of archaeological earthworks.  

‘The South West arguably has the most comprehensive LiDAR data yet available in the UK and we are using this to map as much of the historic environment as possible,’ said Dr. Smart. They are focusing on the Tamar Valley but are also looking at the land around Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor, Plymouth, and Barnstaple – an area covering 1,500 sq miles. 

The information has helped researchers to realize the region was much more densely populated during the Iron Age than previously thought.  They haven’t been selective in the images they have asked volunteers to look at either, so to find so many from a relatively random record is even more exciting. The research is adding to an evolving database of all known heritage in the South West of England and includes everything from lost field boundaries to prehistoric enclosures and everything in between. 

‘Ordinarily, we would now be out in the field surveying archaeological sites with groups of volunteers, or preparing for our community excavations, but this is all now on hold,’ said Smart. 

‘I knew there would be enthusiasm within our volunteer group to continue working during lockdown – one even suggested temporarily rebranding our project “Lockdown Landscapes”,’ he said.

‘I don’t think they realized how many new discoveries they would make.’

New archaeological sites are often found by chance, through digs before new development, so it is unusual to find so many in one go. Dr Smart said there is a large gap in the historical map of the South West, as there isn’t as much development there as in other parts of the country – so these chance discoveries don’t happen as often.  Most of the finds so far have been Iron Age enclosed settlements but they have found dozens of sites dating back to prehistory and as late as the Medieval era. 

One regular project volunteer, Fran Sperring, said: ‘Searching for previously unknown archaeological sites – and helping to identify places for possible future study – has been not only gratifying but engrossing.

‘Although it’s a fairly steep learning curve for me – being a relative novice to the subject – I’m enjoying every minute. Archaeology from the warm, dry comfort of your living room – what could be better?’

Dr. Smart is working closely with his University of Exeter colleague Dr. João Fonte, a specialist in LiDAR data manipulation and interpretation.

A probable Iron Age or Roman enclosed settlement, defined by a bank and ditch (red arrows). The remnants of the bank shows as a pale line on the LiDAR data, and the ditch as a darker line 

‘Remote sensing is a very powerful tool for archaeological prospection,’ said Fonte.

‘Whilst I normally work in Northwest Iberia, I’m really happy to collaborate in this project and share my expertise for the benefit of Devon and Cornwall’s wonderful landscapes,’ he added.  The team is also working with Cornwall and Devon Historic Environment Record teams to find a way to integrate all of this new information into their databases. It’s hoped the work can then be rolled out over more of the South West of England. When the worst of the pandemic is over the team intends to undertake geophysical surveys at a number of the newly-identified sites as part of the Understanding Landscapes project.

Dr. Smart said ‘It’s hard for us not to be able to carry out the work we had planned this summer – including an excavation at Calstock Roman fort.

‘Hopefully, this is only a temporary blip and we will be back out in the countryside with volunteers as soon as it is safe to do so.’

There is a wider benefit to using the LiDAR mapping data though. Dr. Smart hopes to be able to create a wider-reaching citizen science project that will help map more of the region’s history and create a rich record for the future. He said they were able to make use of existing maps created from a number of aerial surveys and satellite data.  These maps are generated by the Environment Agency for the purpose of flood monitoring, but Dr. Smart said the detail is also perfect for spotting historical sites.

Norway’s melting ice is revealing priceless ancient artifacts

Norway’s melting ice is revealing priceless ancient artifacts

“The moment these artifacts melt out of the ice, they’re immediately vulnerable to the elements,” says James H, in an interview with national geographic.

Ancient artifacts preserved in snow and ice over thousands of years in Norway’s mountains are emerging at an unprecedented rate, and archaeologists are scrambling to collect them all before it’s too late, according to national geographic

Because ice patches in the past have contracted and expanded due to temperature shifts, many of the objects recovered have likely one time or another been exposed and then buried by snow and ice.

An iron arrowhead, possibly dating back a millennium or more, emerging from an ice patch in the mountains of Norway.

The bronze arrowheads of 1500 years ago, the Tunic of the Iron Age, and even the remains of a wooden ski complete with leather binding left behind sometime in the year 700. Some of the oldest objects were dropped more than 6,000 years ago.

With low-winter precipitation and warmer summers the alpine ice dramatically reducing the alpine ice that acts as a time capsule for lost treasures.

“The ice is a time machine,” Lars Pilö, an archaeologist who works for the Oppland County council told Archaeology in 2013. “When you’re really lucky, the artifacts are exposed for the first time since they were lost.”

A ski with leather binding recovered from an ice patch in the Norwegian mountains. Analysis later determined that the artifact dates back to the year 700.

Unlike glaciers, which tend to crush and grind objects as they move down a mountain, the majority of artifacts coming out of Norway are being recovered from ice patches.

These isolated non-moving accumulations of ice and snow are significant to the archeological record because of their extreme stability, with many containing layers of seasonal snowpack dating back thousands of years.

Sections of ice in the Juvfonne snow patch in Jotunheimen, Norway, are an astounding 7,600 years old, according to a 2017 study.

An Iron Age tunic recovered from the Lendbreen ice patch in August 2011.

Despite their remote setting and scarce visits from modern-day humans, ice patches for thousands of years were veritable hot spots for ancient hunters.

In the summer, reindeer herds often crowd together on the islands of snow and ice to escape pesky, biting botflies, which have a strong aversion to the cooler temperatures. In the past, hunters would follow, losing or forgetting precious equipment along the way that was later buried and preserved in the winter snows.

Some items, such as the 1,600-year-old knife shown in the video below, look as if they were lost only a few decades ago.

A small iron knife with a birchwood handle was found just below the pass area at Lendbreen. It has been radiocarbon-dated to the 11th century.

Because ice patches in the past have contracted and expanded due to temperature shifts, many of the objects recovered have likely one time or another been exposed and then reburied by snow and ice. They also have a tendency to be carried by meltwater. As explained on the Secrets of the Ice Facebook page, the 2,600-year-old arrows shown in the image below were washed downslope far from the place they were originally lost.

Arrows discovered in the scree of an ice patch were later determined to date back to 600 B.C.

Some of the most exciting finds are those objects found emerging from the surface of the ice, a sign that they have previously been untouched by melting, according to researchers from the Oppland County Council. These artifacts are generally exceptionally preserved, with organic materials such as leather and fabric still present. It’s also an indication of the severity of anthropogenic global warming, with certain ice patches in Norway estimated to have retreated to levels last seen during the Stone Age.

“It’s very impressive when you can say this melting ice is 5,000 years old, and this is the only moment in the last 7,000 years that the ice has been retreating,” Albert Hafner, an archaeologist at the University of Bernsays Hafner, told Archaeology. “Ice is the most emotional way to show climate change.”

The preserved remains of a 3400-year-old hide shoe discovered on an ice patch in 2006. Over the last 30 years, some 2,000 artifacts have been recovered from Norway’s melting ice fields.

Unfortunately for archaeologists, the rate of ice loss coupled with the extremely small annual windows of opportunity to scour the alpine patches, means some newly exposed items will break down and disappear before anyone has a chance to study them.

“This material is like the library of Alexandria. It is incredibly valuable and it’s on fire now,” George Hambrecht, an anthropologist at the University of Maryland, College Park, told New Scientist.

Right now you might be thinking, “I want to help find and preserve these incredible artifacts!,” and we agree, it sounds like quite the adventure to take a romp into the Norwegian wilderness and possibly stumble upon a well-preserved Viking Sword (see below). The reality, however, is that field work can sometimes be laborious and uncomfortable, with every day at the mercy of Mother Nature’s fickle moods.

That said, the Oppland County Council did accept volunteers last spring and it’s possible, especially with so many finds emerging from the ice each year, that others may be called upon to assist.

“We may not find much (or we could strike the jackpot, who knows),” Lars Pilø wrote last April in the Secrets blog. “It all depends on the melting conditions, and they develop over the summer and during fieldwork. If we are unlucky, the scenery and the team spirit make up for the lack of finds.”

A Viking sword discovered in 2017 and dating back to c. AD 850-950.

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