Norway’s Melting Ice Patches Offer a New Glimpse Into History

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.

Norway’s Melting Ice Patches Offer a New Glimpse Into History



In Ireland, Drought And A Drone Revealed The Outline Of An Ancient Henge

Crops are fading in the drought. And the unusual weather circumstances made the remarkable photos possible, Murphy explains.

“In the late Neolithic, people would have built this henge out of timber,” he says. Imagine massive posts — possibly whole tree trunks — planted in pits and postholes.

“Over time, when the monument fell out of use, the wood all rots away and the holes kind of fill up with organic material,” he said. “But they leave a sort of a fingerprint, or a footprint.” Archaeologists can see it in soil samples. And, in a drought, you can see the impact on crops.

“Those filled-in holes retain a slight amount more moisture than the surrounding soil,” Murphy says. “The crop that is growing out of those features has a very small advantage in terms of additional water and it’s very slightly healthier.”

In normal weather, the difference is undetectable — that’s why Murphy had flown drones overhead before without noticing it. And even in a drought, it’s too subtle to see from the ground.

But combine the dry spell with the aerial view, and suddenly the outline is obvious.

In Ireland, Drought And A Drone Revealed The Outline Of An Ancient Henge : NPR


Europe’s scorching heatwave has revealed a mysterious henge

The henge is thought to date from the late Neolithic period, up to possibly the Bronze Age, from about 3,000 BCE. Anthony Murphy, a journalist and researcher responsible for Mythical Ireland, a blog about Ireland’s ancient megalithic sites, is responsible for the new find, which is being hailed as a completely new and very significant discovery by archaeologists.

…The new site is part of a cluster of henges and passage tombs in the Boyne Valley – working with with LiDAR scanning, Davis has roughly doubled the number of known monuments since 2010.

The landscape is known for passage tombs (like Newgrange, or Dowth, where a tomb has just been discovered) which were built from about 3,600 until 3,100 BCE during the middle Neolithic period.

The henge would have been made out of timber with two concentric circles, which would possibly have been ‘linteled’ with horizontal supports as well. “This is a time period where they’re building particularly in timber and earth, as opposed to stone which went before,” Davis says.

…Although there are discernible entries and exits, you could in theory enter the structure at any point. “It makes it much more like a symbolic enclosure, rather than a real enclosure.”

This all points to the idea that the structure was used for ritual ceremonies that involved feasting, gathering and trading together. There is, Davis explains, lots of evidence of feasting on animals at Durrington Walls within the Stonehenge landscape in England, and these sorts of sites are sometimes referred to as passing enclosures – places people congregate at during the changing of the seasons.

“The discovery means we have the highest concentration of late neolithic henges anywhere in the world,” Murphy says. He believes there may be some astronomical alignment to unearth – at nearby Dowth Hall, alignment towards the summer solstice sunrise has been discerned.

Europe’s scorching heatwave has revealed a mysterious henge | WIRED UK

Very cool!

Climate Change Is Erasing Human History

We’re standing on the bank of Ukkuqsi, a site that Jensen, Utqiaġvik’s resident archaeologist, has been monitoring since 1994, ever since the frozen body of a girl who died eight hundred years ago emerged from the bluffs. Iñupiat people have lived in and around Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow) for more than a thousand years. Their history has accumulated in the ground beneath their feet, preserved in the same permafrost soils that underlie most of Alaska’s North Slope.

…On top of the erosion, a warmer atmosphere is causing Alaska’s permafrost to thaw. As that happens, exquisitely preserved remains—clothing, sod houses, scraps of food, human bodies—are starting to rot.

…It’s a story that’s playing out across the entire world, from mountaintop glaciers to Caribbean islands. Over the last several decades, archaeologists have watched in alarm as history and heritage are erased by rising seas, melting ice, and worsening storms. Researchers liken the vanishing remains to books containing priceless knowledge about past cultures, past ecosystems, and past climates.

…Jensen shows me artifacts from Walakpa, a major coastal archaeological site about fifteen miles southwest of Utqiaġvik that’s likely been occupied on and off for over 3,000 years. The site, which contains an extensive record of Birnik and Thule Eskimo cultures, started to erode about five years back. The oldest, deepest layers, which sit right along the coastline, are going fast.

…Hillerdal estimates that the entire site has about a decade left. But the areas she is actively excavating, which are close to the erosion edge, “can disappear this winter,” she says. There’s a lot to lose.

“The preservation is extraordinary,” Hillerdal tells me. “We have grass ropes, basketry, pretty much an amazing sample of Yu’pik pre contact life from this time period. The number of museum quality pieces is in the thousands.”

…But it remains to be seen who would fund a global effort to survey and excavate vanishing sites—or even a fraction of them. In the U.S., the National Park Service has taken on a leadership role, both in terms of planning for climate change impacts on cultural heritage sites, and funding researchers who want to study threatened sites that reside within parks. But NPS funds are limited.

Climate Change Is Erasing Human History


Human remains buried at Stonehenge 5,000 years ago offer a clue to where they came from

By creating a map of strontium isotope ratios across a geographical area and comparing that with those found in a bone fragment, scientists can determine a human or animal’s place of origin — or at least where they spent the majority of the last 10 years before they died.

In this study, the researchers identified bone fragments belonging to 25 distinct individuals that had been buried at Stonehenge. The strontium isotope analysis revealed that the bones of 15 of these people exhibited the same strontium isotope ratio that existed in the area around the monument.

The results from the other 10, however, showed that these people did not consume food grown in the local area alone.

…The researchers can’t be totally sure where these 10 people came from, but the strontium isotope ratios in their bones are consistent with a region in west Wales that is known to be the source of some of the stones in the monument.

Further analysis also suggested that the wood fuel that was used to cremate some of these people did not come from the area around the monument either.

Human remains buried at Stonehenge 5,000 years ago offer a clue to where they came from


Stonehenge mystery solved? Study sheds light on people buried at monument – CNN

The results revealed that 40% of the people buried at Stonehenge likely came from west Wales, the suggested origin of the site’s smaller bluestones.

…The bone analysis suggested that within the last ten years of their lives, these people were not living at Stonehenge nor originally from the area around Stonehenge, known as the Wessex region.



Stonehenge mystery solved? Study sheds light on people buried at monument – CNN