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      Melting snow patches reveal Neolithic archery

      Antiquity

      Cambridge University Press (CUP)

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          Abstract

          High altitude snowfields provide repositories of well-preserved organic remains of considerable antiquity, as spectacular discoveries such as the Similaun Iceman illustrate. In Scandinavia, melting snow patches have been systematically surveyed by volunteer groups for almost a century, and a growing collection of archaeological artefacts has been recovered. Only recently, however, has AMS dating confirmed that some of the finds go back as far as the Neolithic. Here fragments of five Neolithic arrowshafts and a Neolithic longbow discovered in 2010–11 in the Oppdal area of Norway are described. They throw light on Neolithic bow and arrow technology and tangentially on the hunting techniques which may have attracted hunters to these snow patches in search of game. The progressive and accelerated melting of the snow patches in recent years draws attention to processes of climate change and the urgency of discovering and recovering these fragile perishable artefacts.

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          Most cited references 8

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          Making a point: wood- versus stone-tipped projectiles

          What are the advantages of equipping a wooden arrow with stone, rather than just using the sharpened wooden tip? Very few it seems. In a series of well-controlled experiments the authors show that stone arrow-heads achieve barely 10 per cent extra penetration over wood. They then raise some pertinent ideas about the other advantages, social and symbolic that may have driven hunters the world over to adopt the stone tip.
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            Fatal pneumonia epizootic in musk ox (Ovibos moschatus) in a period of extraordinary weather conditions.

            The musk ox is adapted to extreme cold and regarded as vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Population decline is proposed to occur due to changes in forage availability, insect harassment, parasite load, and habitat availability, while the possible role of infectious diseases has not been emphasized. The goal of the present article is to describe an outbreak of fatal pasteurellosis that occurred in the introduced musk ox population of Dovrefjell, Norway in 2006, causing the death of a large proportion of the animals. The epizootic coincided with extraordinary warm and humid weather, conditions that often are associated with outbreaks of pasteurellosis. The description is based on long series of data from the surveillance of the musk ox population, weather data from a closely located meteorological station, and pathoanatomical investigation of the diseased animals. It is concluded that the weather conditions likely were the decisive factors for the outbreak. It is suggested that such epizootics may occur increasingly among cold-adapted animals if global warming results in increased occurrence of heat waves and associated extreme weather events, thereby causing population declines and possibly extinctions.
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              Practising archaeology at a time of climatic catastrophe

              The term 'catastrophe' in my title is not chosen idly, but reflects the now well-established fact that Earth is experiencing (anthropogenic) climate change at a rate and scale unparalleled in human history (IPCC 2007a). Dramatic events such as the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 are so unexpected that one retains a clear memory of precisely when and where one learned of them. Regrettably, climate change is subtler, its effects slower, its consequences less immediately obvious. Yet something of the same is true. In my own case, I vividly recall the moment when I first grasped what it might mean. At the 1993 Kimberley meeting of the Southern African Society for Quaternary Research (SASQUA), a presenter commented that her palaeoenvironmental research, which reached back through the Holocene, might, perhaps, be relevant to modelling future climatic change. Back came the comment from another participant that the Holocene climatic 'optimum' was far from relevant; a bestcase analogue might instead be the conditions prevailing during the Pliocene, 5.3-1.8 million years ago.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                applab
                Antiquity
                Antiquity
                Cambridge University Press (CUP)
                0003-598X
                1745-1744
                September 01 2013
                January 2 2015
                September 2013
                : 87
                : 337
                : 728-745
                Article
                10.1017/S0003598X00049425
                © 2013

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