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University of Colorado Scientists Search for Artifacts in Melting Glaciers

University of Colorado Scientists Search for Artifacts in Melting Glaciers
keywords: Alaska - arrow - spear
Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder continued their search in southeast Alaska last summer to pinpoint rapidly melting glaciers and ice fields that hold prehistoric human artifacts before exposure triggers their decomposition.
For thousands of years, humans hunted on the glaciers and ice fields that cover what is now the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in southeast interior Alaska. During the summer months these ancient ice fields attracted caribou and other animals seeking refuge from insect swarms that blanket Alaska during summer.

At the same time, humans hoping to feed their families visited ice fields with the goal of finding meat. Unfortunately for the ancient hunters, they dropped some of their tools, or perhaps missed when they shot their arrows or spears. Over time, those weapons and tools were encased in ice, until now.

As global warming continues to melt glaciers and ice fields at a rapid rate, discarded or lost tools that were frozen in glaciers are being released from the ice, according to James Dixon, curator of the Museum and Field Studies program at the CU Museum of Natural History and a fellow at CU-Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, or INSTAAR.

Among their most significant finds this year were wooden arrow shafts, one with red ochre paint, and a stone point still lashed to its wooden shaft. ...

Read more at Ascribe.org (october, 14 2003)