7,000-year-old mountain goat remains melted out of alpine ice

(ORDO NEWS) — Archaeologists have explored ice-free patches in the Ötztal Alps and found the skulls, bones and hair of at least 15 Alpine ibex. Radiocarbon analysis has shown that these finds may be about seven thousand years old.

It is not yet clear whether these animals were killed during a hunt or whether they were brought to the top of the mountain as part of a ritual. This was announced by the Secrets of the Ice project team on their Facebook page*.

Climatic changes allowed the development of a new direction in the study of antiquities – glacial archeology. As part of it, scientists are looking for and studying artifacts, remains and other biological materials (for example, ancient manure) that have been stored under ice and snow for a long time.

The real impetus for the development of glacial archeology was the accidentally discovered ice mummy, which had lain in the Ötztal Alps for more than five millennia (more about it can be found in the material “From the abyss in the ice”).

The vast majority of finds were made in ice patches located in Norway and the Alps, as well as in the northern regions of the United States and Canada.

So, recently a wooden bow about 4000 years old was discovered in Norway, a Mesolithic rock crystal mining site was found in the Alps, and mummies of a mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) and a wolf cub (Canis lupis) were found in the Yukon.

Archaeologists believe that glacial archeology is promising in the Andes (earlier, the mummy of the Ice Maiden was found there, which can be read about in the Well Preserved material), the Himalayas, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and New Zealand.

For example, in Mongolia, researchers recently found the remains of argali and ancient weapons.

7 000 year old mountain goat remains melted out of alpine ice 2
Surveyed site in the Ötztal Alps
ASP / Stazione forestale di San Leonardo in Passiria

Norwegian archaeologists from the Secrets of the Ice project spoke about the results of research that took place in the Italian part of the Ötztal Alps, just a few kilometers from the place where the Ötzi mummy was buried more than 30 years ago.

At the top of Mount Lodner, at an altitude of about 3,200 meters above sea level, scientists studied the area released from under the ice and found the remains of at least 15 individuals of Alpine ibex (Capra ibex). Among the finds were skulls, bones and even animal hair.

The researchers managed to get the first radiocarbon dating of these finds, which showed that the remains of goats are about seven thousand years old. According to archaeologists, there are still several important unresolved issues.

So, they have to find out if these bones are associated with one event, or if they accumulated on top of the mountain for a long time. In addition, it is not clear whether these animals were killed here during the hunt, or whether these were ritual offerings brought here.

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