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Author Topic: 1500 year old Finnish ski  (Read 5831 times)

Offline Mangrove

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1500 year old Finnish ski
« on: March 07, 2015, 10:39:15 am »
A man was picking berries in Southwest Finland in 1991. While walking in a bog, he stumbled upon what looked like to be a piece of a scots pine sticking out from the surface. Later is was established that the wood was the in fact a right ski, which was traditionally made shorter than the left ski. The longer left ski was never found. The ski has been dated to have been made during the mid-6th century.

The ski is not the oldest found in Finland (the oldest one is over 5000 years old), but the only ancient one where the leather binding has survived. The binding is made out of leather that has the fur on. The grooves and cuts made along the edge of the ski suggest that there used to be a strip of leather sewn to the bottom of the ski to improve grip.

The drawing is by Jari Heinonen from Finland's National Board of Antiquities. The photographs were taken by me in the National Museum of Finland, where the ski is now displayed. The first photograph shows the broken tip of the ski (please mind the text reflecting from the glass). The second one illustrates the binding. The third photo is from the very end of the ski.








« Last Edit: May 22, 2015, 12:48:38 am by Mangrove »

Offline into the wind

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Re: 1500 year old Finnish ski
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2015, 11:22:17 am »
Thanks for sharing. It's great to see these examples of "old tech". We are not so far away.

Offline acurrier

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Re: 1500 year old Finnish ski
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2015, 12:55:10 pm »
What is the reason for having one ski shorter than the other?

Offline Mangrove

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Re: 1500 year old Finnish ski
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2015, 04:58:05 am »
What is the reason for having one ski shorter than the other?

When the right ski is about 1/3 shorter than the left ski, it allows you to turn around with ease. It is also easier to climb steep hills and cross obstacles (e.g. fences) when the skis are arranged like that.

Offline Ron

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Re: 1500 year old Finnish ski
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2015, 05:34:04 am »
Great find!
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Offline Mangrove

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Re: 1500 year old Finnish ski
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2015, 01:28:16 pm »
Here's a few photographs taken from a pair of late 19th century skis from Northern Finland (Pudasjärvi). As in the older example, a piece of reindeer leather has been nailed into the bottom of the shorter right ski.




Offline HOOP

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Re: 1500 year old Finnish ski
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2015, 07:19:33 am »
Thanks again Mangrove for your ongoing efforts to show us the historical information and the way our ancestors lived.  The skills of our ancestors were amazing.
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Offline lilcliffy

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Re: 1500 year old Finnish ski
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2015, 12:03:41 pm »
Didn't they use a shorter ski as a "traction" ski in some situations?

My understanding is that some ski setups involved a very long "gliding" ski, mated with a short kicker/traction ski with a permanent skin.  The skier uses the short traction ski for grip; freely glides on the gliding ski.  My understanding is this would allow the skier to use both hands freely while skiing (e.g. hold a bow, spear, etc.).  Obviously this would only work on gentle terrain.

I was also under the impression that some of the Sami in Fennoscandia are still using this type of ski technology.

Offline Mangrove

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Re: 1500 year old Finnish ski
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2015, 02:06:30 am »
My understanding is that some ski setups involved a very long "gliding" ski, mated with a short kicker/traction ski with a permanent skin.  The skier uses the short traction ski for grip; freely glides on the gliding ski.  My understanding is this would allow the skier to use both hands freely while skiing (e.g. hold a bow, spear, etc.).  Obviously this would only work on gentle terrain.

Using only one ski pole was a norm before the use of equal length skis. The pole was usually made so that it functioned at the same time as a pole and a spear or a hand bow. Old literature mention that with a proper technique and physical fitness, one could even archive glides of 20-50 meters in length before the need to kick again.

I was also under the impression that some of the Sami in Fennoscandia are still using this type of ski technology.

I am only aware of a handful of enthusiasts in Fennoscandia who still practice this kind of skis. They went out of fashion among the general population in Finland after, for example, the hunting of Finnish forest reindeer was banned at the end of the 19th century.

Offline arcticmag

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Re: 1500 year old Finnish ski
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2015, 09:23:43 am »
I visited the Ajtte Museum of Sami history in Jokkmokk, Sweden a few weeks ago. I watched some very interesting old footage of Sami using one pole while tending their reindeers on skis. The pole was about 5 feet long and had a widened end that acted as a scoop so they could dig down through the snow to help the reindeers find food. As far as I could tell both skis were the same length on the footage, as well as in the displays in the museum.
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Offline h_t

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Re: 1500 year old Finnish ski
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2015, 09:15:07 pm »
In Russia fur (under) coated skis are still in use, one pole too.
Hunters use it for support, steering, clearing traps from snow, dispatching animals and buttering the toast. I never heard of skis of different length (right and left), not that I am some sort of a ski expert.
The skis are shown in "Happy People" documentary.

Offline lilcliffy

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Re: 1500 year old Finnish ski
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2015, 07:14:15 am »
Watched "Happy People" on Netflix- excellent stuff.  I  was surprised how long he made his skis for skiing through the bush- but it appeared as if he maintained a bit of a trail on his trap line.  That footage of the trapper making his skis and then skiing on his trap line for sable- awesome.

As Mangrove commented- the short/long ski setup was for hunting- so that both hands are free to work with a weapon.  I would imagine this technology was most appropriate for gentle terrain.

h_t- how long were the skis  being used by the reindeer herdsman?

Offline h_t

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Re: 1500 year old Finnish ski
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2015, 02:22:27 pm »
Quote
h_t- how long were the skis  being used by the reindeer herdsman?

no idea :(
but here