A hiker has stumbled across a 1,200-year-old Viking sword in remarkably good condition in Norway's mountains, archeologists said Thursday, in what could be another sign that global warming is benefitting archeology.
The 30-inch (80-centimetre) wrought iron weapon dates "from the beginning of the Viking era, around the end of the eighth century," according to archeologist Jostein Aksdal in the western town of Bergen where the sword will go on display.
"At this time, all the swords were very valuable because it was a weapon for people of high rank," Aksdal told AFP.
"Most (Vikings) had to get by with a simple knife or an axe."
The hiker found the sword three years ago but only recently turned it over to archeologists.
Experts don't know why the sword would have been left in the mountains.
"Maybe there is a grave there, or was it left there by a trader? Was it hidden there for one reason or another? The only limits are our imagination," Aksdal said.
"Did someone die there? Or was there a fight, a theft, a murder or something else? We can't say."
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A more thorough study of the site will be carried out next spring when the snow has melted.
The cold dry weather in the mountainous region of southern Norway probably helped to keep the object in good condition.
There, "temperatures remain below zero for six months of the year," Aksdal said.
While climate change has many negative implications for planet Earth, it is proving beneficial to archeologists.
"The melting snow means that a growing number of ancient objects are seeing the light of day," Aksdal said.