Melting snow patches reveal Neolithic archery
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionAntiquity. 2013, 87 (337), 728-745. 10.1017/S0003598X00049425
High altitude snowfields provide repositories of well-preserved organic remains of considerable antiquity, as spectacular discoveries such as the Similaun Iceman illustrate. In Scandinavia, melting snow patches have been systematically surveyed by volunteer groups for almost a century, and a growing collection of archaeological artefacts has been recovered. Only recently, however, has AMS dating confirmed that some of the finds go back as far as the Neolithic. Here fragments of five Neolithic arrowshafts and a Neolithic longbow discovered in 2010–11 in the Oppdal area of Norway are described. They throw light on Neolithic bow and arrow technology and tangentially on the hunting techniques which may have attracted hunters to these snow patches in search of game. The progressive and accelerated melting of the snow patches in recent years draws attention to processes of climate change and the urgency of discovering and recovering these fragile perishable artefacts.