Global warming continues to reveal ancient artifacts buried under ice patches for thousands of years. Some of the latest finds are in the Mackenzie Mountains in the arctic regions of North America.
Ice patch archeology is a recent phenomenon that began in Yukon. In 1997, sheep hunters discovered a 4,300-year-old dart shaft in caribou dung that had become exposed as the ice receded. Scientists who investigated the site found layers of caribou dung buried between annual deposits of ice.
Archaeologist Tom Andrews of the International Polar Year Ice Patch Study first became aware of the importance of ice patches when word about the Yukon find started leaking out. In 2000, he cobbled together funds to buy satellite imagery of specific areas in the Mackenzie Mountains and began to examine ice patches in the region.
Results have been extraordinary. Andrews and his team have found 2,400-year-old spear throwing tools, a 1,000-year-old ground squirrel snare, and bows and arrows dating back 850 years.
"The implements are truly amazing,” Andrews says. “There are wooden arrows and dart shafts so fine you can't believe someone sat down with a stone and made them."
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