Melting ice in Norway has revealed a long-lost Viking Age mountain pass full of archaeological finds.
The pass, which has been slowly cleared of ice by rising global temperatures, is located in the Landbrin ice section in the central mountains of Norway northwest of Oslo.
The pass dates back to around 1800 before the Nordic Iron Age and has been used for centuries by farmers and hikers making their way through the mountains.
"It likely served as both an artery for long-distance travel and local travel between permanent farms in the valleys to summer farms higher in the mountains, where livestock grazed for part of the year," said study co-author and archaeologist James Barrett of the University of Cambridge.
Due to the large number of people who made their way through the pass, the area was littered with hundreds of artifacts that fell and later covered in ice over a long period of time.
These items, which date from the Roman Iron Age to the medieval period, include snowshoes, a woolen tunic, a knife, wooden skis, arrows, horseshoes, horse bones, and a broken cane emblazoned with an inscription that reads "belongs to Joar."
In total, more than 800 items have been removed from the pass so far.
Despite its popularity, however, the pass has seen less and less use since around the 14th century, possibly due to the Black Death, a pandemic that has killed millions of people around the world.
"The pandemics have taken a heavy toll on the local population," said archaeologist Lars Pilo, co-director of the Secrets of Glacial Archeology program. “And when the area finally recovered, everything changed. The Landbrin Pass fell out of use and was forgotten."