News / Science & Technology

Thawing Norway Glacier Reveals Pre-Viking Tunic

Reuters
A pre-Viking woolen tunic found beside a thawing glacier in south Norway shows how global warming is proving something of a boon for archaeology, scientists said on Thursday.

The greenish-brown, loose-fitting outer clothing  - suitable for a person up to about 176 cms (5 ft 9 inches) tall - was found 2,000 meters (6,560 ft) above sea level on what may have been a Roman-era trade route in south Norway.

Carbon dating showed it was made around 300 AD.

"It's worrying that glaciers are melting but it's exciting for us archaeologists,'' Lars Piloe, a Danish archaeologist who works on Norway's glaciers, said at the first public showing of the tunic, which has been studied since it was found in 2011.

A Viking mitten dating from 800 AD and an ornate walking stick, a Bronze-age leather shoe, ancient bows, and arrow heads used to hunt reindeer are also among 1,600 finds in Norway's southern mountains since thaws accelerated in 2006. 

"This is only the start,'' Piloe said, predicting many more finds.

One ancient wooden arrow had a tiny shard from a seashell as a sharp tip in an intricate bit of craftsmanship.


View Larger Map

Receding glaciers

The 1991 discovery of Otzi, a prehistoric man who roamed the Alps 5,300 years ago between Austria and Italy, is the best known glacier find. In recent years, other finds have been made from Alaska to the Andes, many because glaciers are receding.

The shrinkage is blamed on climate change, stoked by man-made emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.

The archaeologists said the tunic showed that Norway's Lendbreen glacier, where it was found, had not been so small since 300 AD. When exposed to air, untreated ancient fabrics can disintegrate in weeks because of insect and bacteria attacks.

"The tunic was well used - it was repaired several times,'' said Marianne Vedeler, a conservation expert at Norway's Museum of Cultural History.

The tunic is made of lamb's wool with a diamond pattern that had darkened with time. Only a handful of similar tunics have survived so long in Europe.

The warming climate has an impact elsewhere. 

Patrick Hunt, a Stanford University expert who is trying to find the forgotten route that Hannibal took over the Alps with elephants in a failed invasion of Italy in 218 BC, said the Alps were unusually clear of snow at 2,500 meters last summer.

Receding snows are making searching easier. 

"I favor the Clapier-Savine Coche route [over the Alps] after having been on foot over at least 25 passes including all the other major candidates,'' he told Reuters by e-mail.

The experts in Oslo said one puzzle was why anyone would take off a warm tunic by a glacier.

One possibility was that the owner was suffering from cold in a snowstorm and grew confused with hypothermia, which sometimes makes suffers take off clothing because they wrongly feel hot.

You May Like

Multimedia Ferguson, Missouri Streets Calm After Days of Violence

Police official says authorities responded to fewer incidents, noting there were no shootings, Molotov cocktails or fires More

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

For Chanthy Sok, rap infused with Cambodian melodies is a way to pay respect to the survivors of the victims of Khmer Rouge genocide More

Study: Our Life with Neanderthals Was No Brief Affair

Scientists discover thousands of years of overlap between modern humans and their shorter, stockier cousins More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid