Stunningly Well-Preserved Arrows With Feathers Revealed By Melting Ice Sheets In Norway

An Iron Age arrow, approximately 1,500-year-old, found lodged in the icy ground was thawed out using lukewarm water. Image credit: Espen Finstad/secretsoftheice.com

Melting ice sheets in Norway have revealed a bunch of incredibly well-preserved arrows from the distant past.

The array of arrows was found around the ice patches of the Jotunheimen Mountains in southern Norway during a 2019 expedition by Secrets of the Ice, a team of glacier archaeologists who scour the receded ice sheets for historical relics

One of the most impressive discoveries includes an Iron Age arrow, approximately 1,500-year-old, that was found lodged in the icy ground before being thawed out using lukewarm water. The team described the condition of this arrow as “awesome,” noting that it still had its pointed iron arrowhead and, incredibly, a feather fletching.

Arrow
It's unusual for feathers to have not degraded completely. Image credit: Espen Finstad/secretsoftheice.com

This was far from the only arrow found at the site. A previous expedition to the ice patch back in 2013 unearthed an arrow typical of the Viking Age (793–1066 CE). 

It was assumed this was the only artifact amongst the ice sheet. However, between 2013 and 2019, the ice patch retreated approximately 100 meters (238 feet) as a result of thawing from warming temperatures linked to climate change. While that’s very bad news for the health of the ice sheet, it has helped to uncover more long-lost treasures. 

The team discovered seven other arrows during their 2019 survey, one of which was an arrow found lying in a meltwater pond estimated to be roughly 4,000 years old from the Stone Age. They also found a rare and "unusual" arrowhead that dates to approximately 600 CE and an arrow with an antler arrowhead from around the same time. 

The archaeologists discovered this 4,000-year-old Stone Age arrow lying in a meltwater pond. Image credit: Espen Finstad/secretsoftheice.com

After recently sharing the results of their 2019 survey on Facebook, the post quickly went viral and it’s not hard to see why. 

“We plan to return to the site with a proper large-scale systematic survey. The eight arrows recovered from the site, with only a limited survey, tell us that there is bound to be more arrows here waiting to be discovered,” Secrets of the Ice wrote on Facebook.

“There was very little snow this winter in the area were the site is located, so conditions for ice melt and archaeological survey may become excellent this autumn. As always, summer temperatures will decide."

Just last year, the Secrets of the Ice team revealed perhaps one of their most stunning findswell-preserved skis that have laid untouched for some 1,300 years, still featuring their birch bindings and a leather strap. It’s believed the discovery is the best-preserved pair of skis from this time ever discovered.

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