A thaw of ice in the mountains of Norway is helping Lars Piloe and his team of archaeologists uncover a 1,500-year-old trove of equipment used by ancestors of the Vikings to hunt reindeer.
Their work as “ice patch archaeologists” points to one of a few positive side-effects of man-made climate change, widely blamed for shrinking glaciers worldwide.
On other missions to dwindling ice fields they have found arrows, even some with feathers attached. And another expert found a 3,400-year-old leather shoe. (…they speculate that the shoe’s first owner threw it away because it has a hole in the sole).
I was up by the ice a few days ago with my TV colleague Kurt – luckily about 40 cms of snow that fell shortly before had melted away, or the trip would have been in vain for everyone — on days with snow, ”ice patch archaeologists” can’t find anything.
And at almost 2,000 metres, the season is already extremely short — it starts in mid-August and ends as soon as the autumn snows fall, usually around now. Their finds are a stark sign that the ice has not been this small for centuries: feathers or leather turn to dust within days of exposure unless they are properly preserved.