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Home » The Human Element » Some Of The Amazing Discoveries Being Made As Our Climate Changes

Some Of The Amazing Discoveries Being Made As Our Climate Changes

PortandTerminal.com, January 19, 2021

There are countless negative impacts of the world’s changing climate, but the recovery of long-hidden artifacts could be an unexpected positive. 

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA – They say that it’s an “ill wind that blows no good”. Perhaps the discovery of long-hidden artifacts from our past is the good to come out of the ills brought on by worsening droughts and melting glaciers.

Archaeologists now find themselves in a race to recover and preserve these fragile, ancient items before they are lost to mankind forever. “Many other old sites that are being washed away” lamented one researcher involved in a project to recover ancient Yupik artifacts being discovered at a dig in Alaska.

Alaska

Archeological dig.
On the shores of the Bering Sea, archaeologists have excavated the remains of a Yup’ik settlement that is threatened by erosion due to storms and climate change. (Courtesy Charlotta Hillerdal, University of Aberdeen)

In recent years some coastal regions in Alaska have experienced dramatic erosion due to climate change.  Land once held firm by permafrost has softened and is now easily eaten away by the tides, with the result that anything previously embedded in the permafrost is released.

Some of those embedded items being revealed include a treasure trove of ancient artifacts from the Yupik people including woven baskets, hunting tools, wooden masks and charmingly, hundreds of children’s wooden dolls.

Thanks to the permafrost, these centuries-old artifacts have been preserved. Now, with the permafrost thawing, the race is on in Alaska to recover and preserve these items before they are lost once again.

Carved wooded dolls.
These carved wooden dolls probably served as playthings for children and date to between 1540 and 1650. (Courtesy Rick Knecht, University of Aberdeen)
Wood masks
Wooden masks such as this one with both human and wolf characteristics (left) were used as part of an annual winter dancing ritual and were usually broken (right) or destroyed afterwards. (Courtesy Rick Knecht, University of Aberdeen)
An ivory handled ul’uaq with a blade made of slate.
An ivory handled ul’uaq with a blade made of slate. (Photo by Charles, KYUK – Bethel)

Poland

Marble fragment. River bed. Power plant.
The artifacts in the Vistula riverbed revealed by low water levels are pictured with a power plant in the background in Warsaw September 18, 2012.

Record low water levels in Poland’s Vistula river during recent droughts have revealed hundreds of artifacts that had been hidden under the surface of the water for centuries. Many of the discoveries are war booty — marble statues, columns and other decorative stone fixtures that were plundered from Polish palaces by invading Swedish armies in the 17th century.

Marble fragment. River bed. Bridge.
In the rush to whisk their plunder back home to Sweden by boat, some items were lost overboard in Poland’s Vistula river which runs through Poland’s capital Warsaw.
Two divers and a woman. Stone fragment from building. River.
Hubert Kowalski and Marcin Jamkowski with Justyna Jasiewicz and one of their river finds; photo: Marzena Hmielewicz/Adventure Pictures

Iraq

Archeological dig. River. Stone.
Excavators work on a room in the Kemune Palace in which murals were found. (University of Tübingen and Kurdistan Archaeology Organization)

As the waters of the Mosul dam reservoir in northern Iraq receded in the fall of 2018, they revealed a stunning sight: a Bronze Age palace, many of its mud-brick walls and carefully planned rooms remarkably preserved.

The site, known as Kemune, has been known to researchers since 2010, when the reservoir had previously shrunk. The area had first flooded in the 1980s, when the Mosul Dam was constructed. But not until a drought hit the region did the water retreat enough for archaeologists to excavate.

Mural fragment
Mural fragment. (University of Tübingen and Kurdistan Archaeology Organization)

After excavating the newly revealed ruins archaeologists found not only the palace’s walls and rooms but the remains of bright blue and red murals and cuneiform clay tablets. The project could shed light on a little-known empire that dominated the region from approximately 1500 to 1350 B.C.

As reported by the Washington Post

Spain

Monolith. River bed.
Drought conditions in Europe in the summer exposed a circle of more than 100 standing rocks that date back 7,000 years.Pleonr / Wikimedia commons

A 7,000-year-old monument dubbed the “Spanish Stonehenge” was been exposed for the first time in 50 years, after drought conditions in western Spain dropped water levels in a man-made lake and revealed the ancient standing stones.

The circle of more than 100 large rocks, known as the Dolmen of Guadalperal, was submerged in 1963 after the Spanish government constructed the Valdecañas Reservoir to feed a hydroelectric dam that still generates power in the region. Occasionally, the tips of the tallest standing stones have been visible as the reservoir’s water levels have changed, but according to NASA, this is the first time that the entire monument has been out of water since the area was flooded to create the lake.

Norway

Old viking mitten
One finding is this Viking age mitten which dates back to the 9th century AD.

The retreat of melting glaciers has revealed a lost mountain pass in Norway — complete with hundreds of Viking and even older artifacts strewn along it, according to a new study published in the journal Antiquity.

Some of the objects include things such as wooden skis, near-complete bronze-age arrows and wooden shafts, and Viking swords. Other remarkable items found include blue textile rags, a Viking mitten (see above), shoes and a complete Roman Iron Age tunic.

A rusty Viking sword
A Viking sword found in 2017 in Southern Norway. Archaeologists say that the sword dates from 850-950 AD. (Einar Ambakk via AP)
Shoe. Rocks.
A shoe believed to date from the 10th century AD
Roman Iron Age tunic. Rocks
This Roman Iron Age tunic as it was found, crumpled up and lying in a depression and dated to 300 AD

United Kingdom

Prehistoric monuments and settlement near Eynsham, Oxfordshire in the UK, have become visible during the hot summer drought. Photograph: Damian Grady/Historic England

The scorching weeks of the summer of 2018 left crops shrivelled and gardens scorched. It has also revealed the lines of scores of archaeological sites across the UK landscape, tracing millennia of human activity, from neolithic cursus monuments laid out more than 5,000 years ago to the outline of a long-demolished Tudor hall and its intended replacement.

Scorch marks reveal the buried foundations of Tixall Hall, in Stafforshire, which was built in 1555.
Scorch marks reveal the buried foundations of Tixall Hall, in Stafforshire, which was built in 1555. Photograph: Emma Trevarthen/Historic England
Aerial view of scorched brown field
Prehistoric settlement in Lansallos, Cornwall. Its layout is unusual, with concentric ditches with entrances connected by two parallel ditches. The inner ditch may have surrounded a settlement from the bronze or iron age. Photograph: Damian Grady/Historic England

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