Ice patches are similar to glaciers in that they’re long-living hunks of ice replenished by snow each winter. But they differ in that they don’t move. That means that any artifacts left on them are simply entombed in the ice rather than ground to a fine dust, which is what happens to artifacts trapped in glaciers as they slide down the mountain.
Now that climate change is causing ice to melt, those artifacts are once again seeing the light of day after thousands of frozen years. In case of Oppland, Norway, some artifacts have been dated back to 6,000 years ago.
The wealth of artifacts recovered in Oppland (or any ice patch for that matter) are delicate and after centuries of life without air, they degrade and can be destroyed by the elements in a matter of days if nobody finds them. That makes the scientists’ work equal parts detective and EMT.
…The earliest artifacts date to 6,000 years ago, which Barrett said are unique in their own right. But the artifact record that allows the scientists to spin their historical yarn begins to pick up steam in the third century.
That’s a period when agriculture and economic activity started to take hold in the valleys populated by Nordic people.
…The number of artifacts peaked in the Viking Age, which lasted from around the late eighth century until the early 10th century. During this period, exploration was the name of the game. Ships were setting out across the sea, contributing to a larger trading economy that was in part driven by natural resources brought down from the mountains.