“The Best-Preserved Ancient Skis Ever Found:” Archaeologists Unearth 1,300-Year-Old Wooden Skis From Norwegian Ice

Martin Kuprianowicz | | Industry NewsIndustry News

Although skiing never gets old, skiing itself is old—really old. 

In 2014, archaeologists discovered a single, 1,300-year-old wooden ski frozen in the ice on Digervarden Mountain in southern Norway. The ski once belonged to an ancient hunter or traveler or both. Fast-forward to September of 2021 and archaeologists have found the single ski’s missing counterpart. Together, they’re among the best-preserved skis from the ancient world ever recovered by modern-day man, according to Science magazine.

This freshly recovered ski is in better condition than the one first found seven years ago,  Lars Pilø reports, an archaeologist with the Glacier Archaeology Program (GAP) in Norway. Its better condition is likely due to the fact that it was buried deeper in the ice than the other one.

The 1,300-year-old skis, which archaeologists are calling “the best-preserved ancient skis ever found,” may have belonged to a hunter or traveler. | Photo courtesy of Espen Finstad / Secrets of the Ice

The newly recovered ski measures roughly 74 inches long and seven inches wide, making it slightly longer than the other one found in 2014. Smithsonian Magazine reports that both skis have raised footholds and were found with leather straps and twisted birch bark bindings. The second ski shows signs of heavy wear and repairs.

“The skis are not identical, but we should not expect them to be,” Pilø explains. “The skis are handmade, not mass-produced. They have a long and individual history of wear and repair before an Iron Age skier used them together and they ended up in the ice.”

As climate change accelerates glacial melting, archaeologists continue to discover more clues as to what ancient life was like throughout the far, icy North. Copious artifacts discovered by GAP show that the Viking-era inhabitants of southern Norway’s mountains were fairly connected with the outside world, as reported by Daniel Burgess for Columbia Climate School’s GlacierHub blog.

“The [finds] show that the high mountains of southern Norway were not remote areas, devoid of outside contact,” Pilø tells GlacierHub.

Perhaps our planet’s changing climate will reveal further, more readily available discoveries that will shed light on our past as a species. 

Archaeologists in Norway examine the ancient ski. The second ski was better preserved than the first, likely because it was buried deeper in the ice. | Photo courtesy of Andreas Christoffer Nilsson / Secrets of the Ice

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4 thoughts on ““The Best-Preserved Ancient Skis Ever Found:” Archaeologists Unearth 1,300-Year-Old Wooden Skis From Norwegian Ice

  1. Handmade not mass produced. I thought fershure he picked up a pair at the local cave man skis r us store.

  2. Seriously? You really have no idea about wood, water, ice snow and such. Wow
    Good thing new skis are ultra soft flexing, short turn radius and mounted way far forward, otherwise you obviously do not have the skill set to actually make proper technical turns.

    Wood can be bent/arched by exposure to water or steam. Tips of ancient skis were done thus, even the Chinese had that ability. The ski mentioned here and shown in the picture was buried under ice for how long, so yes that turned up tip was flattened by such. Sheesh people, just sheesh. But hey you are an Epic or Ikon skier or both no doubt.

  3. The ski they found is “…roughly 74 inches long and seven inches wide”–And I thought fat skis were fairly new.

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