Archaeologists uncover 1300-year-old ski in Norway
The melting of the long-frozen snow and ice in Norway, and elsewhere around the world, has already yielded numerous ancient artifacts, from hunting tools to goat-skin leggings, shoes, and even Otzi the Iceman, the remains of a man who lived more than 5,000 years ago. Now archaeologists have recovered an ancient ski complete with its binding, believed to date back some 1,300 years.
NRK reports that the wooden ski, which measures 172 centimeters long and 14.5 centimeters wide, was discovered in a glacier in what’s now Reinheimen National Park in the mountains of Lesja in Oppland. Incredibly, even the leather binding, which was mounted on a raised portion in the middle of the ski, was still well-preserved. Historians have long known that Norwegians were skiing more than a thousand years ago, and now they have the proof.
One of the archaeologists on the team from Oppland County, Runar Hole, displays the 1,300-year-old ski found last summer. (AOL screenshot)
Skiing, which originated as a form of travel rather than a sport, is known to have a history of around seven millennia. Ancient carvings dating back circa 5000 BCE depict a skier with one pole, located in Rødøy in the Nordland region of Norway. The Kalvträskskidan ski, found in Sweden dates to 3300 BCE, and the Vefsn Nordland ski, found in Norway is dated to 3200 BCE.
Modern skiing is believed to have evolved in Scandinavia. The word ski comes from the Old Norse word "skíð" which means stick of wood or ski. Norse mythology describes the god Ullr and the goddess Skaði hunting on skis. Early historical evidence includes ancient Greek scholar Procopius' (around CE 550) description of Sami people, indigenous Finno-Ugric people inhabiting the Arctic area of Sápmi, as ‘skrithiphinoi’ translated as "ski running samis".
The Norse goddess Skaði hunts in the mountains on skis in an illustration (1901) by H. L. M. ( Wikipedia)
The newly-discovered ski is just one of many ancient artifacts that have been recovered from melting glaciers. The booming field of glacier and ice patch archaeology represents both an opportunity and a crisis. On one hand, it exposes artifacts and sites that have been preserved in ice for millennia, offering new insights into our ancient past. On the other hand, from the moment the ice at such sites melts, the pressure to find, document, and conserve the exposed artifacts is tremendous.
Norway has already distinguished itself as a treasure chest of items dating back thousands of years. In 2006, a woodworker hiking near Lendbreen in Norway came across a well-preserved leather shoe, which incredibly, was last worn in the Bronze Age, some 3,400 years ago. In 2011, another amazing discovery was made – a 1,700-year-old well-preserved tunic made of lamb’s wool. The most common items, though, are arrows and wooden stakes used to herd reindeer.
Items recovered from melting glaciers including a Bronze Age leather shoe, an ancient tunic, and Otzi the Iceman.
In addition to the ski, the archaeologists also uncovered a runepinne (a wooden slate carved with runic characters), around 60 shafts of arrows, one of which was dated to nearly 6,000 years old, and several hundred other objects. The ancient relics are currently undergoing analysis.
Featured image: Newly-discovered ancient ski found in Norway (AOL screenshot)