Lost Viking ‘highway’ revealed by melting icechevron-down

Photograph by Espen Finstad, Secrets of the Ice
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The Lendbreen ice patch in Norway, pictured here in 2019, is melting, revealing horse dung left by travellers who crossed the area centuries ago.

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It started with an 1,800-year-old shirt. Archaeologist Lars Holger Pilø had watched his colleagues discover the ancient wool tunic that had emerged from a melting ice patch on Lomseggen, a mountain in southern Norway. Now Pilø wondered what else was out there. As the rest of the team packed up the precious find, he and another archaeologist wandered away from the group, tracing the edge of the melting ice shrouded in mountain fog.

As he peered into the gloom, Pilø soon realized he was looking at a field of objects that hadn’t seen the light of day for hundreds of years. Broken sleds, tools, and other traces of daily life going back nearly 2,000 years lay strewn across the surface of the Lendbreen ice patch, which was melting rapidly due to global warming.

“It dawned on us that we had found something really special,” says Pilø, who leads the Glacier Archaeology Program in Oppland, Norway. “We sort of hit the motherlode.”

Now, research published today in the journal Antiquity documents what came next—the discovery of more than 1,000 artifacts literally...

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