An early technical trade between east and west of Eurasia is suggested by the discovery of bone ice skates in a Bronze Age tomb in western China.
In China’s western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, a mountainous region where some historians believe snowboarding originated, scientists discovered 3,500-year-old ice skates made of animal bone.
According to a translated declaration, these ice skates, the earliest ever discovered in China, were fashioned from oxen and horse bones.(opens in new tab). Archaeologists from the Xinjiang Uyghur independent regional government announced their discovery at a press conference on February 27. They were discovered in a mausoleum in the Gaotai Ruins, about 240 miles (385 kilometers) west of the regional capital Ürümqi.
It is unknown if the blades were used for daily transportation or for hunting. They are made of a straight section of bone with perforations drilled into it at either end, allowing them to be fastened to shoes. In contrast to contemporary skates, the resulting “blade” is incredibly flat, but it served as a cutting edge that made it possible for the user to glide across the ice. Unknown is whether the weapons were employed for everyday travel or for hunting. They are constructed from a linear piece of bone that has holes carved into it at either end so they can be attached to shoes. The resulting “blade” is extremely flat compared to modern skates, but it functioned as a cutting edge that allowed the user to glide across the ice.
Archaeologist Ruan Qiurong, of the Xinjiang Institute of Cultural Relics and Archeology, told reporters that the newly-found skates are almost exactly the same as ice skates from prehistoric Europe, which can be interpreted as new evidence of a theorized exchange of information between the ancient west and east in the Bronze Age. According to him, they are also a unique tangible resource for researching the history of ice skating in China.
Bronze Age ruins
The 2015 discovery of the Jirentai Goukou (Jartai Pass) ancient site includes the Goaotai Ruins, where the ice shoes were unearthed. The location consists of an old town and a close-by tomb complex enclosed in an elevated platform and encircled by stone walls.
The site, according to archaeologists, was created around 3,600 years ago(opens in new tab), during the late Bronze Age, when the area was inhabited by cattle-herders of the Andronovo civilization, who also lived in areas of Central Asia and the far east of Europe. According to the researchers, the burial platform is one of the best-preserved Bronze Age tomb structures in Xinjiang and potentially on the Eurasian steppe. Approximately 3,600 years ago(opens in new tab), during the late Bronze Age, when the region was occupied by cattle-herders of the Andronovo civilization, who also resided in parts of Central Asia and the far east of Europe, the site was formed, according to archaeologists. The burial platform is one of the best-preserved Bronze Age tomb constructions in Xinjiang, and possibly on the Eurasian plains, according to the experts.
According to Qiurong, the digs there have uncovered significant details about the burial customs, religious beliefs, and social structures of the early cattle-herding people of the region, who are believed to have built the graves. Other characteristics of the graves, such as a ray-like structure made of 17 lines of stones(opens in new tab), suggest a potential belief in sun-worship, he told the Indo-Asian News Service in 2020. The early cattle-herding people of the area, who are thought to have constructed the tombs, are known to have had distinctive burial practices, religious beliefs, and social structures, according to Qiurong, who claims that the excavations there have revealed important information about these. He informed the Indo-Asian News Service in 2020 that additional features of the tombs, such as a ray-like structure made of 17 lines of stones(opens in new tab), may indicate a belief in sun-worship.
Wheels and wagons
Hundreds of wooden carriages or carts that appeared to have been used to construct the burial platform’s platform were also discovered by the researchers. More than 30 timber components, including rims and axles, are included, along with 11 sturdy wooden wheels. At the press briefing, Qiurong stated, “We originally assessed that [the wagons] were used to construct the elevated platform around the tombs, and then dismantled and intentionally buried. The bone skates discovered at the Goaotai Ruins are not the earliest ever discovered, but they are remarkably similar to skates discovered in Finland that are 5,000 years older, and other ancient sites in northern Europe have also discovered similar ice skates.
The majority-flat southern areas of Finland, which are dotted with tens of thousands of tiny lakes that ice over in the winter, are believed by scientists to be the origin of the Finnish skates. Scientists think that the Finnish skates originated in the largely flat southern regions of Finland, which are dotted with tens of thousands of small lakes that freeze over in the winter. Scientists think that the Finnish skates originated in the largely flat southern regions of Finland, which are dotted with tens of thousands of small lakes that freeze over in the winter. Scientists believe that the mainly flat southern areas of Finland, which are dotted with tens of thousands of tiny lakes that ice over in the winter, are where the Finnish skates first appeared.
Skiing may have originated in China’s rugged Xinjiang area, according to The New York Times.(opens in new tab). Some researchers estimate that the prehistoric Altai Mountains cave paintings, which show hunters on what appear to be skis, may be 10,000 years old. However, other archaeologists question the assertion, stating that it is impossible to date the cave drawings with accuracy. The Xinjiang region of China may have been the birthplace of skiing, according to The New York Times.(opens in new tab). The prehistoric Altai Mountains cave drawings, which depict hunters on what appear to be skis, may be 10,000 years old, according to some experts. Other archaeologists, however, dispute the claim and claim that it is difficult to date the cave images accurately.