Science

Archaeologists find ‘rare’ 1,700 year old weapons after melting glaciers expose secrets

A new study by glacial archaeologists in Norway have uncovered ancient weapons, along with secret hideaways on a remote mountain where stealthy hunters waited for reindeer. While studying a part of the inland mountain peak Sandgrovskaret, a team of researchers discovered five arrows, three of which are up to 1,700 years old. The archaeologists also found 40 stone-built hunting blinds, which allow them to be camouflaged while hunting reindeer.

Lars Pilø, an archaeologist at the Department of Cultural Heritage, Innlandet County Council, Norway, co-director of the Glacier Archaeology Program and the editor of the Secrets of the Ice website said: “When the reindeer had approached to within 10-20 meters [33 to 66 feet], the hunter would get up and start shooting arrows.”

Many key archaeological sites are being uncovered as glaciers gradually melt from global warming.

Mr Pilo and his team have explored the mountains in an effort to discover more hidden treasures uncovered by the melting ice.

While this site was first discovered in 2013, the researchers were not able to return to conduct a complete survey for new five years.

It was only in 2018 that they discovered the weapons and hunting blinds.

Mr Pilo said: “There is a lot of melting going on due to climate change, and we had to prioritize other sites in the short time window for glacial archaeological fieldwork.”

Of the five arrows they found at the site, three of them still had a preserved iron arrowhead.

Mr Pilo noted that based on an analysis of the arrowheads’ shapes, these weapons likely date to between A.D. 300 and 600.

Speaking to Live Science, he said that one of the three iron arrowheads is “a rare type not found at the ice before and hardly in graves in the lowlands, either.”

When Secrets of the Ice first announced the findings on social media in February, the objects became the centre of a debate.

According to Mr Pilo, they received “quite a lot of comments that it had to be a spearhead, but the arrow shaft was found beside it, so it is an arrow.”

Meanwhile, he believed that the other two arrows, those without iron arrowheads — likely date to the first millennium B.C.

The team mapped forty hunting blinds at Sandgrovskardet.

According to a Facebook post by Secrets of the Ice: “Hunting blinds are a regular feature on our reindeer hunting sites, both at the ice and further down the mountains.

“They are stone-built structures, erected as hiding places for the hunters.

“The reindeer are very wary of movement, so the hunters had to make themselves invisible to get within shooting distance.

“The bow-and-arrow shooting distance was probably no more than 10-20 m, so the hunters needed a good place to hide.”

If there wasn’t a decent place the hide, the hunters would build a shelter themselves.

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