1,300-year-old skis found in Norway

Archaeologists found a 1,300-year-old ski frozen on top of a mountain in Norway in September, completing the best-preserved set yet discovered.

A general view over a valley in the mountains of south Norway from beside Lendbreen glacier is seen in this undated picture (photo credit: REUTERS)
A general view over a valley in the mountains of south Norway from beside Lendbreen glacier is seen in this undated picture
(photo credit: REUTERS)

A team of archaeologists found a 1,300-year-old ski encased in ice on top of a mountain in Norway in September, completing a set that Science Magazine described as the "best preserved prehistoric pair of skis on record."

Another team had found the first ski on the mountain five meters away from the second in 2014. The new team waited seven years for the ice to melt, then discovered the second ski partially exposed inside the thawing ice, Science said.

Many artifacts have been discovered recently in cold, northern places like Norway amid increases in glacial melting caused by climate change, Smithsonian Magazine reported.

An iceberg floats near the Wahlenberg Glacier in Oscar II land at Spitsbergen in Svalbard, Norway, August 5, 2019. (credit: REUTERS / HANNAH MCKAY)An iceberg floats near the Wahlenberg Glacier in Oscar II land at Spitsbergen in Svalbard, Norway, August 5, 2019. (credit: REUTERS / HANNAH MCKAY)

The Science article noted that, while fragments of skis have been found that could be traced to as long ago as 6,000 BCE, these particular skis are fully intact, offering unique insights into how such tools were used.

The skis had been "extensively repaired," suggesting that they were valuable and would have been difficult to replace, the article said.

“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,” said Lars Pilø of Norway's Glacier Archaeology Program (GAP), according to Smithsonian.

Science said archaeologists had previously thought that the bottom of the skis may have been lined with fur in order to make uphill travel easier, but the researchers noticed a large groove across the center of the recently discovered ski, a feature that would be useless if fur had, in fact, been used.

"Archaeologists have also found several cairns that may have been associated with an ancient mountain trail. They speculate that the skis’ owner was a hunter, traveler or both," Smithsonian added.