The Big Melt: Saving Archeological Treasures Exposed by Melting Glaciers

The race to find, and save, ancient artifacts emerging from glaciers and ice patches in a warming world

“The fortuitous discovery of the Bronze Age shoe helped the local?heritage management office push for an organized rescue program to?locate, assess, and search dozens of sites in the mountains of?Oppland. It’s an effort that combines archaeology with high-tech?mapping, glaciology, climate science, and history. When conditions are?right, it’s as simple as picking the past up off the ground. [..]

In Scandinavia and beyond, the booming field of glacier and ice patch?archaeology represents both an opportunity and a crisis. On one hand,?it exposes artifacts and sites that have been preserved in ice for?millennia, offering archaeologists a chance to study them. On the?other hand, from the moment the ice at such sites melts, the pressure?to find, document, and conserve the exposed artifacts is tremendous.?’The next 50 years will be decisive,’ says Albert Hafner, an?archaeologist at the University of Bern who has excavated melting?sites in the Alps. ‘If you don’t do it now they will be lost.'”

By Lena Felde

Lena is the Treasurer of Cultura21 Germany. She is studying Cultural Sciences (Mag. Art.) at Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany.