Archaeologists have discovered in Norway the shaft of a medieval arrow, the broken shank of which was repaired by a hunter using sinew. However, apparently, then he was unsuccessful again and his shot missed the target, burying the arrow for several centuries under snow and ice. As the Secrets of the Ice project team reports on its Facebook page*, other finds included fragments of linen and woolen fabrics, the purpose of which remains to be determined.
Climate change has allowed the development of a new direction in the study of antiquities – glacial archaeology. Within its framework, scientists search for and study artifacts, remains and other biological materials (for example, ancient manure) that have been stored under ice and snow for a long time. The real impetus for the development of this direction was the accidental discovery in 1991 of an ice mummy, which lay in the Ötztal Alps for more than five thousand years until German tourists stumbled upon it (you can learn more about it in our material “From the Abyss in the Ice”).
The largest number of finds in the world occur in Norway, as well as in the Alps and the northern regions of the USA and Canada. A significant part of them is in one way or another connected with the activities of ancient and medieval hunters, so knives, remains of arrows, bows and other weapons, “scare sticks,” as well as some other items, such as wooden skis, often fall into the hands of scientists. Moreover, the most famous find made in Norway is a woolen tunic of the 3rd–4th centuries AD, which was discovered on the Lendbren mountain pass.
In recent years, researchers from the Secrets of the Ice project have been actively developing glacial archeology in this country. So, this year they have already reported the first results obtained during an expedition to the Jotunheimen highlands. In August, they discovered an arrow that, judging by the shape of the tip, is about 1,500 years old. And then an arrow from the Viking Age (9th century AD), which retained not only the wooden shaft, but even a small part of the plumage.
On August 31, Norwegian archaeologists from the Secrets of the Ice project arrived at a melting ice patch with an area of about 225 thousand square meters, identified in the mountains last year thanks to the analysis of aerial photographs. A short-term exploration carried out last fall showed great potential in this area. Then the researchers found stone path markers, an arrow shaft, and a rondel (dagger) dating back to the late Middle Ages. Apparently, like the famous Lendbren mountain pass, the discovered area was actively used by reindeer hunters.
In just a few days of work this year, researchers have already found several interesting artifacts. So, on September 1, they discovered a medieval arrow, which is about 800–900 years old. The front part of this shaft turned out to be broken off, but archaeologists turned their attention to the other end. The owner of this arrow broke part of the shaft, after which he had to make repairs – he secured a piece of the shank with a vein. But, apparently, then the hunter failed again. It appears that the repaired arrow missed its target and was buried under snow and ice for hundreds of years.
In addition to the shaft, archaeologists discovered several remains of textiles, the purpose of which remains unknown. Among them was a lump of fabric, apparently made from linen. Scientists have suggested that perhaps this fragment was once torn from an even larger tissue. However, they will be able to answer this question after they unwrap the lump in the laboratory. The other large piece of fabric was also most likely made from linen, although the researchers have not ruled out cotton. But the fact is that until 1813 there was a ban on the import of cotton in Norway, and the fabric found seems to be older. In addition, archaeologists found six fragments of the same woolen fabric, which by the time of discovery had already largely decomposed.
This year on N+1 We have already talked about several artifacts that melted from the Norwegian ice. So, archaeologists reported ancient leather shoes. One of them turned out to be about 1700 years old. The other one was actually made in the Bronze Age. In addition, radiocarbon dating showed that the wooden bow discovered last year is about 4,000 years old.
*Facebook belongs to Meta, whose activities are prohibited in Russia.