Tuesday, April 27, 2010

You have a lemon, you make lemonaid . . .

Top: a birch arrow (in four pieces) and the stone projectile point. The arrow is 270 years old. Bottom: A 340-year-old bow reconstructed from several fragments found near the ice.

SCIENCE DAILY has a report of interest, "Ancient Artifacts Revealed as Northern Ice Patches Melt". Seems that the warming climate has made these permanent ice fields start to shrink. And as they do so, interesting things are left behind the melt.

ScienceDaily (Apr. 26, 2010) — High in the Mackenzie Mountains, scientists are finding a treasure trove of ancient hunting tools being revealed as warming temperatures melt patches of ice that have been in place for thousands of years.

Tom Andrews, an archaeologist with the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife and lead researcher on the International Polar Year Ice Patch Study, is amazed at the implements being discovered by researchers.

The results have been extraordinary. Andrews and his team have found 2400-year-old spear throwing tools, a 1000-year-old ground squirrel snare, and bows and arrows dating back 850 years. 

Unfortunately, the program is winding up.

Andrews is currently in a race against time. His IPY funds have run out and he is keenly aware that each summer, the patches continue to melt. In fact, two of the eight original patches have already disappeared.

"We realize that the ice patches are continuing to melt and we have an ethical obligation to collect these artifacts as they are exposed," says Andrews. If left on the ground, exposed artifacts would be trampled by caribou or dissolved by the acidic soils. "In a year or two the artifacts would be gone."

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