While many of us may be alarmed by the shrinking effects of rising global temperatures on Arctic conditions at both polar regions, archaeologists could not be more delighted. They are thrilled with cultural revelations laid bare with the retreat of melting ice sheets that have blanketed northern Scandinavia for the past millennia. Previously frigid environments not only obscured innumerable human artifacts but preserved them over the last six thousand years. High above the tree line in Norway’s highest mountains, Neolithic arrows, scraps of clothing from the Bronze Age, and skis from Viking Age traders are coming to light for the first time since they were lost.
At the edges of these contracting ice patches, researchers have already recovered more than two thousand ancient objects from as long ago as the New Stone Age. Curiously, a profusion of artifacts beginning around the turn of the fifth millennium BC terminates abruptly after two hundred years. Virtually no human materials occur again until 2200 BCE. In fact, archaeological finds from that same period are singularly rare all over Norway. Investigators are at a loss to explain what could have been responsible for the apparently mass evacuation of Scandinavia during the Middle Bronze Age. Answers, however, may be not only in the ground but also in the sky. The old Hermetic principle—“As above, so below”—might be as relevant to science as it is to metaphysics.
For example, archaeo-astronomers tell us that a pair of comets, named Encke and Hale Bopp, converged near Earth’s orbit in 2193 BCE. According to Florida Atlantologist, Kenneth Caroli, “If Encke is currently about 5 kilometers [3.1 miles] across at the core, and the former comet, Oljato, only 1.5 kilometers [0.9 miles], Halley’s may have been around 20 kilometers [12 miles] around 2200 BCE. Hale Bopp is at least four to five timers larger than Halley’s and could have been ten times bigger at that time. Prior to its 1997 appearance, computer calculations put Hale-Bopp 15 million kilometers [9,320,568 miles] from Earth in 2213 BC.
About a year before it approached our planet, Hale-Bopp neared Jupiter and may have split into two or more pieces. It does not come as close to any other planets as it does Earth and Jupiter, yet the latter is so massive by comparison, that its gravitational field would have torn Hale-Bopp in twain. The comet could not have adversely affected our planet, unless it had been broken in half from 100,000 to 10,000 years ago.” W. Bruce Masse, an environmental archaeologist with the U.S. Air Force, concludes that “the period 2350 to 2000 BCE witnessed at least four cosmic impacts (ca. BCE 2345, 2240, 2188, 2000) and perhaps a fifth (circa. BCE 2297 to 2265).”
Around 2200 BCE, a 359-megaton asteroid exploded over Argentina, leaving a series of impact craters across the Rio Cuarto area. These contemporaneous astronomical effects were accompanied by anomalous geological changes. According to Maltese researcher, Anton Mifsud, a large land bridge between Malta and the nearby island of Filfla cataclysmically collapsed, generating giant waves that flooded the whole archipelago and brought about the end of Neolithic civilization on Malta. Traces of major faulting in the submarine Pantelleria Rift upon which both islands sit have been dated to 2200 BCE. Swedish geologists, Lars Franzen and Thomas B. Larrson, found in their geologic material, “indications of strongly increased atmospheric circulation in rhythmically appearing periods” throughout the Bronze Age, with a high peak in the late third millennium BCE. Ash-fall from the Icelandic volcano, Hekla-4, dates a major eruption to about 2290 BCE. Catastrophic climate changes occurred simultaneously.
In March, 1998, a specialist in paleo-climatology, Harvey Weiss, Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology at Yale, showed that the Habur Plains of northern Syria represented a highly productive agricultural and metropolitan region until all its farmlands and cities were rapidly abandoned. A prolonged, extreme drought forced mass evacuations. Ancient ocean sediments from the Gulf of Oman dated the sudden deterioration of what had been a stable climate to circa 2200 BCE. Peter De Menocal at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in New York, substantiated Weiss’s conclusion. He found that chemical signals from the Greenland Ice Sheet Project 2 coincided with the Syrian drought.
Four years before De Menocal’s confirmation, a researcher at the Swiss Technical University in Zurich analyzed sediment cores from the bottom of Turkey’s Lake Van, because it lies at the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates River. Gerry Lemcke determined that the lake’s volume of water declined radically at the same time, with catastrophic effects for the rural and urban populations of Mesopotamia. Meanwhile, glaciers renewed their advance in Lapland, northernmost Sweden, and the Himalayas.
Caroli describes “a narrow growth event from the American tree rings and the climate instability reported on the Anatolian sequence. Does the burning of the northern European bogs reflect extreme drought or something else, such as aerial detonations? Lars Franzen found ‘spherules’ similar to those reported in Syria. He made a comparison of certain rare minerals found in the burned layers of the bogs, possibly cosmic dust, with the site of the Tunguska blast of 1908.”
Irish oak chronologies display evidence of an extraordinary “narrowest ring” event in 2345 BCE, which, Baillie believes, “could have a cometary relationship.” There was major flooding at Lough Neagh, the largest lake in the northern part of Ireland. Radiocarbon dating of flood-plain deposits in central England’s Ripple Brook catchment evidenced drastic increases of sediment deposition. These upheavals afflicting the natural world were recorded in the folk traditions and perennial mythic legacies of cultures around the globe. The Old Irish Leabhar Gabhata, or “Book of Invasions,” describes the Family of Partholon, immigrants from a disaster at sea, who arrived on the south coast, about 2200 BCE.
The “World Chronicle” section of medieval Ireland’s Annals of Clonmacnois narrates “lakes breaking out” all over the country around that time. The Archbishop of Armagh, James Ussher, authority on the King James Bible, deduced through internal evidence of the Old Testament that Noah’s Flood occurred in 2349 BCE. One of the seventeenth century’s greatest scientists, Britain’s William Whiston, successor to Isaac Newton at Cambridge, concluded that the deluge Ussher dated was brought about by the near-miss of a large comet.
Germany’s mid-thirteenth century Ore Linda Bok, “The Book of What Happened in the Old Time,” reports that a great island-kingdom was swallowed into the ocean depths during an immense, natural cataclysm in 2193 BCE: “The Earth began to tremble, as if she were dying. The mountains vomited fire and flames. Some sank into the bosom of the earth, and in other places mountains rose out of the plains. The earth trembled, the bottom of the isle of Textla sank, the heavens grew dark, and there were heavy explosions and reverberations of thunder. Aldland, called by the sea-faring people, ‘Atland,’ disappeared, and the wild water rose so high over hill and valley that everything was buried under the sea. Many people were swallowed up by the earth, and others who had escaped death by fire, perished in the water.”
In The Laws, the fourth Century BC philosopher Plato states that “the famous Deluge” of Ogyges took place less than two thousand years before his time; i.e., circa 2300 BCE. Varo, the Roman scholar, wrote that it occurred around 2136 BCE. In Classical Greek tradition, the Ogygean Flood was accompanied by nine months of darkness (ash-fall). The height of Egyptian Civilization in the Old Kingdom collapsed with the fall of the VI Dynasty, just after 2200 BCE. A Coptic account in the Abou Hormeis papyrus tells of a fiery danger that appeared at that time from “the heart of the Lion,” the Constellation Leo, near the star Regulus. Accompanied by loud thundering in the sky, a rain of burning stones shattered Egypt in “the first minute of Cancer.” The Great Flood followed immediately.
Caroli states that the report “could refer to a period when the summer solstice left Leo for Cancer, circa 2200 BCE. The papyrus sets the catastrophe for 399 years after a prophetic dream, which resulted in building the Great Pyramid. If so, the event occurred sometime after 2254 BCE.” During that same year, a mysterious mass-death, including widespread fires, occurred at the Egyptian port-city of Mendes, which was abandoned until the advent of the New Kingdom. According to Bruce Masse cited above, evidence for widespread destruction after the start of the twenty-second century BCE “suggests that a cosmic impact may have been a factor, a date which fits well with the estimate of 2188 BCE for the Sodom and Gomorrah impact,” in Palestine.
Shortly thereafter, the Akkadian Empire unaccountably collapsed. In archaeological terms, its “Ur-III” phase came to a sudden close circa 2160 BCE. Shu Durul, the last king of the Agade Empire, died in 2139 BCE. A contemporary epic, The Curse of Akkad, tells of “heavy clouds that did not rain;” “large fields which produce no grain”, and “flaming potsherds that fall from the sky.” Archaeologist, Marie-Agnes Courty, found collections of Syrian petroglyphs, which suggest that humans witnessed a celestial impact circa 2350 BCE. During the late third millennium BCE, the Liangzhu Culture was replaced by the first Chinese dynasty, the Xia. Ten “suns” fell from the sky after having been shot by a divine archer, an allegory in myth of the celestial chaos during this period. Nine years of cataclysmic floods followed during the reigns of the emperors Kuan and Yu.
Caroli believes “both were connected to sky-dragons, probably comets.” Using royal chronologies, he dates the “ten suns” incident to circa 2141 BCE. China’s Emperor Shun wrote of a large meteor he saw fall from the sky and strike the earth around 2240 BCE, followed by the Great Flood: “The whole world was submerged and all the world was an endless ocean. People floated on the treacherous waters, searching out caves and trees on high mountains. The crops were ruined and survivors vied with fierce birds for places to live. Thousands died each day.”
An abundance of scientific and cultural evidence strongly suggests that the otherwise inexplicable gap in Scandinavia’s archaeological record resulted from the approach of two, massive comets—Encke and Hale-Bopp—culminating in their near-miss convergence around 2200 BCE. Although our century’s retreating ice sheets reveal little from that more remote period, they continue to expose an abundance of artifacts from much later eras. So far, 153 have been repeatedly and reliably dated to the brief but glorious Viking Age, from the late eighth to tenth centuries CE. Some include all-purpose items, such as tools, skis, clothes, or horse trappings. But, occasionally, far more dramatic finds are exposed.
Among the most recent and impressive was an exceptionally well-preserved sword found amid traces of declining permafrost at 5,380 feet, on the side of a Norwegian mountain near the Arctic Circle. When discovered by local archaeologist, Einar Åmbakk, the iron weapon appeared to have been originally placed with its hilt down between a crude arrangement of large stones, from which half of the blade protruded. He was amazed to observe that it evidenced neither scratches nor bending; even its coating of rust is only superficial. “Most likely,” he said, “it was still in its original position.” (http://secretsoftheice.com/news/2017/09/05/viking-sword/)
No other cultural traces were found in the area. The thirty-nine-inch sword was missing its grip of bone, wood and/or leather originally covering the hilt, but these organic materials would have decayed and vanished over the last one thousand years. Such a precious item was not carelessly lost, but it appears to have been deliberately inserted into the arrangement of stones, which may have been a cairn—a small pile or mound of rough stones built as a memorial or landmark, typically on a hill- or mountain-top, or skyline. If the cairn was used as a burial, all indications of the deceased were long since lost to natural forces.
A similarly well-preserved sword, at least as old, was brought to light 1,500 miles west, across the North Atlantic Ocean the Vikings often braved in their redoubtable long-ships, thanks to similarly thawing conditions. It was accidentally found by five goose hunters in the Skaftárhreppur region of southern Iceland, an area recently affected by unprecedentedly severe floods caused by abnormally high temperatures. Arni Bjorn Valdimarsson stumbled upon the blade by chance. One of his companions, Runar Sighvatsson, described the weapon as “just lying there on the ground, waiting to be picked up.”
According to Kristin Huld Sigurdardottir, director of Iceland’s Cultural Heritage Agency, such a find was very rare in Iceland, and it suggested the site where it was discovered might once have been a pre-Christian burial ground. “We date the sword to circa AD 950 or even before that,” she said. “We are very excited by this find, as it is only the twenty-third Viking sword to be found in Iceland (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/ world/europe/1000-year-old-viking-sword-unearthed-hunters-iceland-a7231866.html).
Prolonged, warmer temperatures sufficiently softened soil conditions outside the Danish hamlet of Hørning, near Skanderborg, in Jutland, to expose an undetermined number of subterranean chamber-graves containing a Viking treasure. Although only partially excavated, it has already yielded exquisite gilded fittings from a horse bridle of a type “only available to the most powerful of people in the Viking Age,” said Merethe Schifter Bagge, a project manager and archaeologist at the Museum of Skanderborg, “and we believe it might have been a gift of alliance from some king. The fittings date to circa 950 CE” (http://cphpost.dk/news/archeologists-make-sensational-viking-discovery-in-denmark.html).
A retired businessman found a more rich treasure during exceptionally warm winter weather in Dumfries, southern Scotland. Derek McLennan ran his metal detector around some fields owned by the Church of Scotland, but his find was not accidental. Following up in the area after earlier unearthing a few Norse coins, he discovered a hoard of perfectly preserved gold, glass, and enameled objects and textiles, all dating between the ninth and tenth centuries. Included was a silver arm-ring originally from medieval Ireland, a solid silver cross with enameled decorations, a gold bird-shaped pin, silver stamp-decorated bracelets, and a Holy Roman Empire chalice engraved with the likeness of several animals. Some of these objects attest to the Vikings’ far-flung raiding expeditions, which ranged across Europe, as far east as Turkey, westward across the Atlantic to America.
McLennan’s discovery at Dumfries has been estimated at around one million British pounds, the equivalent of 1,412,090.00 U.S. dollars, half of it claimed by Church of Scotland officials. (http://cphpost.dk/news/ viking-treasure-found-in-scotland.htm)
As global temperatures continue to rise, melting away the ice sheets that have for so long concealed secrets of the deep past, we may logically anticipate the exposure of further treasures, some of which may forever after transform our understanding of human antiquity.