Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Oldest Man-Powered Transport - Finnish Horse Bone Skates

I read today the oldest man-powered transportation comes from Finland. Skates. Doesn't surprise me. We still sometimes use skates and skis as transportation over lakes, as it is easier than going around the lake. And of course it came from Finland, since Finnish culture is quite old when compaired to these newbies, like Germanic and Latin countries. I've read from somewhere the oldest Finnish words hacked in stone are from about 4200BCE, so it's almost 5000 years older than for example English language, which developed around 500CE. In school we used to take trips to local islands by skates in winters. It was fun to skate when there's ice as far as an eye can see.

After the ice-age Finland was ripped and torned. Huge ice-masses moved to south and ripped the country's landscape. If you look at the map it has all its lakes in lines, coming down vertically from north and after half way turning to south-west direction. Means to travel across frozen lakes came because of need, not because of fun.

Skiing was different also. Up until late 1800's, when modern skis came, the skis were more like a large ski on the other foot and a smaller, sometimes fur-covered ski called Lyly on the other. The smaller ski and a modified spear to paddle gave more speed. The point wasn't to go very fast, but to be efficient when there's not that much food available and it's very heavy to travel through all that snow and ice.

The thing that made made me smile is when I read the horse bone skates were no match for modern speed skaters. No shite Sherlock. I can't skate 60km/h with modern skates. No way. I don't think they held that many speed skating competitions back in that time either. Not enough food to fool around. I would be more interested in comparison of the normal travelling speed of old skates vs normal travelling speed of new skates. How the manouvering is compared to the new skates and so on.

I don't need statistics how McLaren's new F1 car is so much faster than a Benz Patent Motorwagen. I know that already without statistics. I want to know the difference in normal travelling when comparing Mondeo with T-Ford, for example.

I wonder how the skates worked. They mention the skates were made from horse bones, and the fat in the bones gave extra gliding abilities. In Scientific Bloggin's page there's a picture of one skate that has the horse bone as a sole and a metallic blade. This would be already quite advanced skate and must've come after the iron age. (Was that around 600BCE?) Would be nice to test those skates someday.

But in any case, interesting articles in BBC and in Scientific Blogging. Read.

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