Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Week's Glimpse at Global Warming

Global warming is dramatically affecting  archaeology, as we could easily see in two Ancient Tides postings this past week. 

On the positive side, retreating glaciers in the Alps are revealing a number of artifacts previously encased in ice, indicating that Neolithic humans inhabited the high altitudes over 5,000 years ago in greater numbers than previously believed. The ensuing colder era drove them to the valleys, where archaeological evidence of their existence has been more accessible.

The flip side of the climate coin was obvious with investigations into ancient Scythian culture, where melting ice in the Altai Mountains of Mongolia is destroying tombs just below ground level and prompting at least one scientist to call out for “rescue archaeology.” Some of archaeology’s most significant recent finds have centered on Scythian mummies and artifacts preserved by permafrost for more than 4,000 years in the Siberian steppes.

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