Perfectly-Preserved Ice Age Arrow Discovered in Norway

The Iron Age is revealing itself while a glacier recedes in Norway and researchers continue to discover hunting artifacts. This time, an arrow with its fletching still attached. 

The 31-inch find is estimated to be around 1,500 years old. Archaeologists found it in the Jotunheimen mountains in 2019, but are regularly announcing finds via social media in recent months as part of their Secrets of the Ice program. The arrowhead is iron. The wrapping is sinew. The fletching is made of feathers, which usually deteriorates quickly, but it was preserved surprisingly well because the artifact was frozen for centuries in a frozen ice flow.

“It’s probably the best-preserved arrow we have found so far,” Lars Pilo, Norway Innlandet County Council Glacier Archaeology Program co-director told Live Science. “Shafts of this type tend to be made in pine. Hopefully, it will be possible to find out which birds the feathers come from and what animal the sinew came from.”

To avoid damage the arrow won’t be carbon dated, but Pilo estimates it is from 300 to 600 A.D. based on a design that matches other arrows found in bogs and graves in southern Norway. The arrow was found at a glacial site in the Jotunheimen mountains in 2019 but wasn’t announced until April 28, 2022.

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In February, archeologists announced another rare find in the same mountain range—40 hunting blinds likely used for reindeer hunting. According to IFL Science, more and more finds, including a pair of skis,  keep surfacing near the ice sheets of southern Norway because a glacier has retreated more than 200 feet since 2013. Other arrowheads found at the site include one that is 4,000 years old—from the Stone Age—as well as an antler arrowhead.

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