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3 December 2009
Polar ice cap might have been smaller than thought

The Polar ice cap during the last Ice Age might not have been as extensive as previously thought, according to archaeologists looking at the remains of human settlements in the north of Sweden. People may have lived in the northern region of Tornedalen (on the border with Sweden and Finland) as far back as 11,000 years ago, according to Olof Östlund. The 2 settlements were found in the area around Kaunisvaara, where a new mine is about to be built.
     Carbon dating of the finds show that they are much older than previously thought, and mean that previous theories that the area would be covered by the huge polar ice cap are wrong. "We will now have to re-think our theories on how people migrated to northern Sweden and northern Norway. They didn't get here from the south via the coasts, the finds in Kaunisvaara make this very clear", Östlund said.
     The archaeologists located the settlements in the beginning of September and they have now been dated with the help of radiocarbon dating. "I had been expecting old dates. But when I saw that the first numbers were very high I felt immediately that this was bingo. When the second number was five figures - I felt faint," Östlund explained. He was surprised that the find was so old and compared it to another settlement located nearby in Kangofors five years ago. That settlement had been used 10,000 years ago.
     Östlund compared the new discovery to the find in Voullerim in the middle of the 1980s of 6,000 year-old stone age shelters. Then the assumptions regarding the history of the pre-history of Norrland were revalued to take into account that people had actually lived there. Archaeologists were also then given new types of remains to look for - and several finds were then later uncovered.
     
Source: Radio Sweden (28 November 2009), The Local (29 November 2009)

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