For several years, shrinking icefields in arctic and mountain regions have been revealing rare artifacts that had been covered by snow and ice for millennia. Most of these reports have come from Canada and Alaska, but recently Craig Lee, a Research Associate from the University of Colorado at Boulder discovered an atlatl dart near Yellowstone Park.
As glaciers and ice fields continue to melt at an unprecedented rate, increasingly older and significant artifacts -- as well as plant material, animal carcasses and ancient feces -- are being released from the ice that has gripped them for thousands of years, he said.
The dart Lee found was from a birch sapling and still has personal markings on it from the ancient hunter, according to Lee. When it was shot, the 3-foot-long dart had a projectile point on one end, and a cup or dimple on the other end that would have attached to a hook on the atlatl. The hunter used the atlatl, a throwing tool about two feet long, for leverage to achieve greater velocity.
Later this summer Lee and CU-Boulder student researchers will travel to Glacier National Park to work with the Salish, Kootenai and Blackfeet tribes and researchers from the University of Wyoming to recover and protect artifacts that may have recently melted out of similar locations.
Link (with video). Photo: Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado