History | October 8, 2021 2:53 pm

In Norway, Archaeologists Just Found a 1,300-Year-Old Ski

The other half of the set was found seven years ago

Lesja, Norway
Lesja, Norway.
-Any-, CC BY 3.0

Thousands of years ago, some forward-thinking individual in a snowy region decided that it would be a brilliant idea to strap boards to their feet and careen down the side of a mountain. Though skiing is thought of as a high-tech pursuit, its roots hearken back to a much earlier time in human history. And some of the artifacts from skiing’s own history remain out there in the world, waiting to be found.

The latest example of this comes from the Digervarden ice patch, located in Lesja, Norway. Smithsonian Magazine reports that a group of archaeologists recently discovered a ski preserved there in the ice — one with a history going back 1,300 years.

That in and of itself is an impressive feat. But it’s also notable that this ski — as tends to be the case — was one part of a matched pair. Miraculously, the matching ski was also uncovered seven years earlier.

Writing at Science, Andrew Curry has more information on the discovery. Apparently, the archaeologists who discovered the ski in 2014 had planned for something like this to happen, and kept watch on the ice in case enough of it thawed to reveal something from the past.

The Science article suggests that the two skis were not a perfect match, but instead looked as though they had been repaired many times over the years. What’s less clear is what happened to the person who was wearing them — did they abandon the skis, or is there a more complex story still to be told?

The skis are, reportedly, the best-preserved pair of ancient skis yet documented. It’s a feat for the ages; one could probably write a saga about it.