The Vikings are one of the world’s first explorers. They were incredibly versatile, strong, and intelligent. It was their innovations in the boating world that allowed them to discover much of the world before others could even contemplate long voyages. Much of their civilization has been lost to the passage of time yet a new discovery is changing all of that.
Over time life erodes. People pass away. Metals rust, wool biodegrades, the things we make decompose. New takes over from old. It is how the world works and it is the reason that we know so little about ancient civilizations. That is unless these civilizations have been frozen in time. When the city of Pompei was devastated by a volcanic eruption it became a city frozen in time. The ash preserved many of the ruins to the present day and allowed incredible discoveries about ancient Roman civilization to take place.
Now a discovery has been made in Norway that may offer similar discoveries to take place about the Viking world. Due to the colder climates in Norway many of the higher altitudes are covered in snow and ice. Climate change has caused some of this to melt and it is revealing a forgotten world. In 2011 a highway that was previously unknown was discovered. The highway passes through the Norway mountains and was likely a trade route through Scandinavia dating back all the way to 300 AD.
While the highway was discovered in 2011 the discoveries continue to grow. The ice is continuing to retreat and with that retreat, we are finding more and more artifacts. In 2011 sleds, horseshoes, and a sweater were all found. The sweater alone dated back 1,700 years.
Now the artifacts been found are older and more varied. Gloves, shoes, horses’ bones, iron tools, and more. One horse’s skull was dated to over 1,700 years making it the oldest find in the discovery so far. However, archaeologists are excited at what they find next. The discovery is like a never-ending Christmas as the ice continues to retreat the possibility for greater finds increases. It is believed the road was a very important trading route for a number of centuries but due to changes in climate, economy, and disease it became unused and forgotten. Overtime the highway was given back to nature and lost to the world of mankind.
The snow and ice that took over have preserved the artifacts in near perfect condition. Those that found them say they appear as if they are a few months old, not hundreds of years. To think that these finds can paint a picture more vivid than ever imagined before. The scientists were able to identify the exact type of weave used, a diamond twill, and even note how the sweater was worn and what the fashion was at the time.
The find is bittersweet though. While it is an incredible gift to the world of archaeology as it provides a rare insight into the past. It is also an ominous message for societies of the future. If climate change continues to move through the mountains at this rate it will have an untold impact on the world we have today. Who knows if the climate change that is revealing a society from hundreds of years ago is the same climate change that will be the undoing of our society. One can’t help but feel the transcience of mankind when looking upon civilizations that are now gone. At times we can feel invincible but history has proven time and time again that we are not.