Responsible for the discoveries is Secrets of the Ice, a groundbreaking glacier archeology collaboration between the Innlandet County Council and the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo. Since 2011, a team of scientists headed by Dr. Lars Holger Pilø and Espen Finstad has been – literally – uncovering the secrets of the ice, some of which have been buried for thousands of years.
Melting glaciers are giving way to monumental discoveries from the Viking period and earlier. Since 2006, the team at Secrets of the Ice has uncovered over 3000 artifacts (the oldest of which are 6000 years old) from 51 glaciers and ice patches.
An ancient Viking “highway”
Dr. Lars Holger Pilø led the discovery of an ancient Viking “highway” running through Lendbreen Glacier in Norway’s Breheimen National Park. Stack rock formations called cairns, which were found on the site, are thought to have been used as road signs to guide travelers through the land. This, coupled with a rock shelter and invaluable artifacts, points to the area once being a major trade and/or travel route.
Traffic through the highway is thought to have diminished just after the Viking Age, when major outbreaks of illness began to plague Europe.
When glaciers double as museums
Organic objects such as textiles, leather, wood, and wool are rare finds in the field of archeology across the world. Because organic artifacts deteriorate when exposed to air and light, few regions in the world have the natural capabilities to preserve them.
The glaciers of Scandinavia are an example of a landscape with the conservation capabilities to protect these delicate items with ice. However, ice archeologists have a very difficult job. They must act quickly and carefully to retrieve objects as the ice melts, and the risk of deterioration increases.
A fascinating collection of artifacts
We’re bringing you photos of some of the fascinating discoveries unearthed by Secrets of the Ice.
Photos and photo information courtesy of Secrets of the Ice.