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Arrowhead recently found at Jotunheimen.   Source: Secrets of the Ice

Huge 1,500-Year-Old Arrowhead Released From Melting Glacier

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Archaeologists in Norway uncovered a 1,500-year-old iron arrowhead in a melting glacier in the summer of 2020. The team of investigators inspecting Jotunheimen, a massive melting Norwegian glacier, had already found over 2000 relics, and were just delighted to find an arrowhead dating back to the Germanic Iron Age. Measuring seven inches long and weighing little over an ounce ‘ Climate Change’ was held responsible for revealing the ancient Norseman’s missed shot that had been embedded in a glacier for 1,500 years.

An Ancient Landscape of Unspeakable Beauty

The ancient Germanic Iron Age arrowhead was forged in iron and was discovered still with its arrow shaft, and even a feather from its flight, locked in a glacier in southern Norway. The team of scientists noted that climate change has made its way to the Jotunheimen glacier and the warmer air temperature is causing the ice to melt which in turn freed the ancient artifacts.

According to a report in, anthropologist Shoshi Parks, said three national parks converge in this region of central Norway, but “Jotunheimen is arguably the most spectacular, having 250 peaks over 1,900 meters high [one mile]” including Galdhøpiggen and Glittertind which are the two tallest in northern Europe. And furthermore, in a Daily Mail article the archaeologist describes the region as having “alpine lakes and shimmering turquoise glaciers, chequering an ancient landscape of unspeakable beauty.”

Climate Change Can ‘Reverse’ Archaeology

A Feb 2019 article in Norway Today said 2018 was a very bad year for the Norwegian glaciers which retreated “33 meters on average in the course of last year alone,” which according to heat records represented “the greatest decline since the measurements began.” With many of the nation’s glaciers experiencing dramatic melting over the past few years, experts say this is being accelerated by climate change which is causing archaeologists to uncover ice-locked relics. But conversely, this situation will also destroy any artifacts that are not discovered in time.

The archaeological team excavating Jotunheimen has also found an ancient snowshoe for horses, which is estimated to date back to the Viking Age or the Medieval Period, and more than 2,000 artifacts have been found at the glaciers with the oldest being around 6,000 years old. The artifacts include man-made items like hunting tools, textiles, leather and clothing, as well as zoological remains like antlers, bones, and dung. But Lars Pilø, who is part of the Glacier Archaeology Program told CNN that “rapid melting causes bits and pieces of human history to “melt out in reverse time order.”

Jotunheimen National Park. (Public Domain)

Jotunheimen National Park. (Public Domain)

But The Arctic Is Also Warming

According to an article in Smithsonian Magazine, Norway is not the only place where climate change is causing archaeological artifacts to emerge from ice. As Marissa Fessenden wrote for in 2015, “bodies of soldiers lost during World War I have emerged from the Alps and Inca mummies have emerged from glaciers in the Andes.” National Geographic say melting permafrost in southwest Alaska has released “2,500 artifacts, including woven baskets and wooden masks” and while there are countless negative impacts of the changing climate, the recovery of these artifacts “could be an unexpected positive.”

Jørgen Hollesen, a researcher at the National Museum of Denmark, told Glacier Hub that melting ice is threatening archaeological artifacts locked in glaciers and that climate change is presenting different problems in the Arctic Circle. A 2018 study, coauthored by Hollesen, found there were around “180,000 registered archaeological sites in the Arctic” dating from the Stone Age to the medieval and more recent but there are also “settlements, cemeteries, churches and fishing villages of Norse, European, Inuit and Sami people.”

Climate-change related events are destroying a wide range of cultural sites with the resultant coastal erosion, landslides and melting permafrost and sea ice permits fierce waves and storms direct access to coastlines. What seems to be rising, or melting, from all this, is that our uncertain climate ‘future’ may inadvertently help archaeologists better understand our ‘past’.

Top image: Arrowhead recently found at Jotunheimen.   Source: Secrets of the Ice

By Ashley Cowie



Patrick La Manna's picture

"By the influence of the increasing percentage of carbonic acid in the atmosphere, we may hope to enjoy ages with more equable and better climates, especially as regards the colder regions of the earth, ages when the earth will bring forth much more abundant crops than at present, for the benefit of rapidly propagating mankind." -- Svante Arrhenius

ashley cowie's picture


Ashley is a Scottish historian, author, and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems in accessible and exciting ways.

He was raised in Wick, a small fishing village in the county of Caithness on the north east coast of... Read More

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