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Faunal finds from alpine ice – natural or archaeological depositions?

Issue: Vol 3 (2016)

Journal: Journal of Glacial Archaeology

Subject Areas: Archaeology

DOI: 10.1558/jga.32414


Inland ice cover large areas of the world’s surface, but the ecology of the ice itself is poorly studied and largely unknown. A large variation of melted out faunal finds from glaciers and ice patches around the world have been discovered for more than 150 years. These finds holds a unique and largely untapped information potential for archaeology, faunal history and the ice as distinct ecosystems. In order to retrieve information properly from this frozen databank we need a better understanding of how the material has been deposited. This article provides a worldwide overview of glacial faunal finds and a more in-depth presentation of the Norwegian collections. The Norwegian material is in general very well preserved and allow more insight into the taphonomy of the finds. The large majority of finds seem to be naturally deposited and many of the sites are thus interesting hybrids between archaeological and natural historic sites. Potential implications and prospects for future management and research is further discussed.

Author: Jørgen Rosvold

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