Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Come, Let Us Reason Together

What is odd about this report?

LiveScience reports.
"Warming temperatures are melting patches of ice that have been in place for thousands of years in the mountains of the Canadian High Arctic and in turn revealing a treasure trove of ancient hunting tools,"

They cite as examples:
In 1997, sheep hunters discovered a 4,300-year-old dart shaft in caribou dung that had become exposed as the ice receded. . . . [Archaeologist Tom] Andrews and his team (including members of the indigenous Shutaot'ine or Mountain Dene) have found 2,400-year-old spear throwing tools, a 1000-year-old ground squirrel snare, and bows and arrows dating back 850 years.
So what does this dire news add up to?  Prizes -- the adulation of other correspondents here in the Siberia of the Internet -- to the first correspondent who spots it.......


  1. Hmmm--well gee, doesn't that imply that it was warm enough back then for there not to have been any ice where the artifacts were found? That perhaps, it was warmer then?

  2. I don't know about the Canadian High Arctic, but we've got quite a bit of artifacts turning up in receding norwegian glaciers as well. A great deal of these come from periods we know were considerably colder than our current climate such as the little ice age (of late medieval to modern fame) and the subatlantic period after the scandinavian bronze age (c400 BC) and well into the iron age. We've also got artifacts from known warmer periods. There are a great deal of factors beside climate that affect the survival og artifacts in glaciers (one of the more important being movement in the glaciers - most surviving artifacts have suffered from some degree of being grinded by moving ice; eventually this will disintegrate them totally).

    Climate might explain a lot, but predicting the survival of archaeological records through it is risky business. Almost as risky as believing that the surviving archaeological record is representative of what was really in use for a certain period.

  3. Recently ordered Eifelheim, by the way! I found yours site through Tim o'Neills blog.

  4. I can easily see a glacier advance, engulf, then retreat, taking the artifact with it.

    I hope you find Eifelheim to your liking, Endre.


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