Melting Season

Digs & Discoveries November/December 2019

(Espen Finstad,

Humans and animals have traversed the icy landscape of Norway’s Jotunheimen Mountains for thousands of years. Now, melting ice patches at a site in northern Oppland County are exposing evidence of these often-treacherous crossings. A team of archaeologists led by Espen Finstad of the Secrets of the Ice Project has recovered hundreds of well-preserved artifacts scattered across the high mountain pass, including a Viking-period arrowhead, a horse’s snowshoe, and a wooden tinderbox with leather straps containing a stick and fragments of resin-filled wood. “We believe we are seeing a long series of losses and discards,” says project codirector Lars Pilø, who remarks that none of the finds seem to be associated with any of the others, despite the fact that most appear to date to the Viking Age and medieval period. Not everyone who ventured into the mountains survived the harsh conditions, however. The team found a packhorse—its ribcage and shod hooves still partially intact—that met its chilly end centuries ago.


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