Ancient Iron Age Sweater Discovered In Melting Snow Of Norwegian Mountains

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Researchers have analyzed a trove of ancient artifacts whose discovery beneath melting snow on a Norwegian mountain glacier a couple of years ago was announced in March, and the scientists have found a sweater in it dates back to the Iron Age. The garment was preserved under snow that is now melting at an extremely fast pace because of climate change, BBC News reported.

“The new find is of great significance for dress and textile production and how these reflect the interplay between northern Europe and the Roman world,” said Marianne Vedeler of the University of Oslo in Norway. She analyzed the tunic and co-authored one of two papers about the trove of ancient artifacts appearing in the most recent issue of the quarterly journal Antiquity. The extremely worn garment was discovered on the Norwegian Lendbreen glacier. Due to exposure to both sun and wind, it had been bleached, Discovery News noted.

“The Lendbreen tunic is a first glimpse of the kind of warm clothing used by hunters frequenting the ice patches of Scandinavia in pursuit of reindeer. It had no buttons or fastenings, but was simply drawn over the head like a sweater,” BBC News quoted Vedeler as saying. Created between 230 and 390, the tunic was crafted from two different fabrics made from lamb’s wool or the wool of adult sheep. Vedeler said that patches on the garment show “that this was not the first stage of the tunic’s life.”

Other discoveries in the same area included Neolithic arrows and bow fragments. They are estimated to be about 6,000 years old. According to Martin Callanan of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the arrowheads are believed to have belonged to hunters who “lost their arrows” in the patches of snow. Callanan wrote the paper about the arrows and bow fragments in the journal Antiquity.

The melting snow has given researchers a new look into the lifestyles of the people who once inhabited the region. But the speed at which the melting snow is revealing these artifacts may ultimately lead many to be destroyed before they are discovered. 

“The number and antiquity of some of these artifacts is unprecedented in the almost century-long history of snow-patch surveying in the region,” Callanan said. “At the same time, as the climate continues to heat up and the snows melt away, one wonders what long-term price there will be to pay for these glimpses of the frozen past.”

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