Central Norwegian Snow Patch Archaeology: Patterns Past and Present


  • Martin Callanan




Scandinavia, snow patch, reindeer hunting, bow and arrow, alpine archaeology


Over nearly a century, a large assemblage of archaeological artifacts has been collected from some high-lying snow patches in a number of mountain areas in central Norway. The regional collection now comprises 234 individual artifacts that include both organic and inorganic elements. Many of these are arrowheads, shafts, and other equipment from past hunting expeditions on alpine snow patches. This article outlines three different phases of artifact recovery in the region: Phase I (1914 – 43) began with the initial snow patch discovery and included large numbers of finds in the 1930s and early 1940s; Phase II (1944 – 2000) had relatively few discoveries; and Phase III (2001 – 11) included discovery of 17 new sites and a record number of 145 artifacts. Local reindeer hunters and hikers have recovered many of the artifacts. There are close links between reindeer hunting and snow patch surveying in the region. The majority of snow patch finds were recovered during the period from mid-August through mid-September. The collection can best be viewed as a cohesive long-term record of melting snow patches.