A Melted Glacier Has Exposed A 1,700-Year-Old "Highway" In Norway
In Norway, archaeologists excavated in the snow-covered highlands in the center of the country, where a glacier has been melting for several years and discovered an ancient road that was actively used for about 1000 years.
According to the Science journal, this is a trade route that has been hidden under a glacier for centuries. In 2011, travelers discovered the remains of a tunic that was about 1,700 years old in the snow-capped mountains of Central Norway.
The discovery was made since the ice in this area began to melt. Since then, the pass has been regularly examined by archaeologists. Over the years, they have discovered hundreds of artifacts. And after the extreme melting of the ice in 2018, a major discovery was made: scientists have established that a major trade route ran here.
Along this "highway", cattle were driven in both directions through the pass and various goods were transported, including deer antlers, oil, and hides. Søren Michael Sindbaek, an archaeologist from Aarhus University in Denmark, called it an early example of globalization.
Scientists believe that the road appeared in ancient times. The earliest artifacts found here date back to about 1750 BC. However, it became regularly used as a trade route around 300 AD. This was indicated by radiocarbon dating.
There were trading outposts nearby, down the river Otta, which runs nearby. Goods were transported seasonally. The use of this trade route reached its peak around 1000 ad, that is, during the Viking age.
"It may seem counterintuitive, but high mountains sometimes did serve as the main communication routes, rather than being the main obstacles to the path," says study co-author James Barrett from the University of Cambridge. "It is easy to travel at high altitudes because there the ground is covered with a dense layer of snow."
Researchers believe that around 1400, the use of the road declined sharply. There are almost no finds later than this period. Probably, the role was played by the plague epidemic, which claimed the lives of almost half of the medieval population of the country.
Also, around 1300, the so-called little ice age began, which lasted for a century. Together with the plague, it destroyed the economy of this region. This is probably why the pass was forgotten and abandoned for more than 500 years - until archaeologists rediscovered it.
The full study can be found in the Antiquity journal.