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Ancient sweater found in Norway as snow melts from mountain

By Celeste Tholen Rosenlof  |  Posted Aug 30th, 2013 @ 11:57am


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OSLO, Norway — A 1,700-year-old sweater emerged from the melting snow in Norway’s mountains is giving researchers an insight into the daily life of the Iron Age.

The ancient pullover found in the Norwegian Lendbreen glacier is made of two dark brown wool fabrics, possibly lamb’s wool, and was originally of high quality. Researchers told Discovery News the wools for the twill were “carefully chosen” and “quality and natural pigmentation were taken into consideration.” From the fabric woven in a diamond pattern – common for the Iron Age – was made for a slender man standing at about 5-feet-9-inches tall.

"The Lendbreen tunic is a first glimpse of the kind of warm clothing used by hunters frequenting the ice patches of Scandinavia in pursuit of reindeer,” Dr. Marianne Vedeler, a researcher who analyzed the tunic told the BBC. “It had no buttons or fastenings, but was simply drawn over the head like a sweater.”

Researchers found two patches on the back of the sweater, indicating heavy wear-and-tear.

"The patching shows that this was not the first stage of the tunic's life; indeed, the hunter who abandoned it may not have been its first owner," Vedeler said.

Researchers suggested the sleeves of the sweater were added on after the garment’s initial construction.

“For the first repair the mender used a patch of the same fabric as used in the body section, while the second patch derived from the fabric used for the sleeves,” study authors wrote. “The seams on this second patch are made with the same yarn as used for sewing on the sleeves.”

Study author Lise Bender Jørgensen, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, told Discovery News the tunic’s owner may have been surprised by a sudden change in weather, leaving the piece of clothing behind in a rush.

The sweater was found after snow from the glacier began melting away 6,560 feet above the sea level, along with some neolithic arrows and bow fragments, dating as far back as 6,000 years.

"These are unique finds, they are a signal that something is changing up there,” said Martin Callanan of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, who analyzed the arrows. “As snow patches are starting to melt, people are finding archaeological artefacts in all sorts of different places and they are often quite well preserved.”

These findings were published in the Journal "Antiquity."

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