5,800-years-old World’s Oldest Snowshoe discovered in Italian Alps

Doug Williams

Italian Alps have once again astonished the archaeologists when it revealed world’s oldest snowshoes near the border with Austria.

The artifact is believed to be 5,800 years old and was described to the reporters at a press conference held in Bolzano Italy.

The press was told that the snowshoe discovered in the Italian Alps most probably belongs to one of the ancestors of Otzi the Iceman. Otzi was another amazing find of the Alps in Italy which has been confirmed to be 5,300-year-old ice mummy discovered 25 years ago from a melting glacier near Otztal Alps in South Tyrol.

The discovery isn’t new however the fact that it belongs to Otzi’s ancestors is a new revelation. A cartographer working for Military Geographical Institute in Florence Italy first discovered the perfectly preserved snowshoe in 2003.

Simone Bartolini was utilizing the summer months to carry out a survey on a glacier called Gurgler Eisjoch which stands tall at 10,2828 feet from sea level in the val Senales. Bartolini initially didn’t think much of the shoe as he thought that it belonged to someone who trekked the region not long ago, a hundred years at most he thought, he kept the artifact in his office as a souvenir.

However, last year when Bartolini was engaging in a conversation with the director of the South Tyrolean Museum of Archaeology Angelika Fleckinger, he mentioned the shoe. Fleckinger showed interest in having a look at the shoe as she thought that the shoe could have been older then Bartolini had previously thought.

After the initial observation proved that the snowshoe was indeed really old, Bartolini decided to send it off for carbon dating on the advice of Angelika Fleckinger. The carbon dating results were shocking as the results from two separate labs proved that the snowshoe was in fact created in the late Neolithic age; sometime between 3,800 to 3,700 BC.

Further analysis revealed that the artifact was manufactured entirely from birch wood; first bending an approximately 5-foot-ong branch to an oval shape measuring around 13 inches in diameter, and then many strands were stretched inside the birch wood frame.

The fact that really put Bartolini on the wrong path initially when he discovered the shoe was that very similar shoes were used by the farmers and other inhabitants of the region who trekked these Alps.

The discovery has astonished many archaeologists; the director of the Office of Archaeological Heritage Catrin Marzoli said that the fact that Neolithic humans managed to live on the high altitudes of Italian Alps five millennium ago despite the challenges and hardships is mind-bending in itself, to say the least.

She asserted that there could be various reasons for these prehistoric humans to have walked in these mountains namely for hunting, visiting holy places, herding or just escaping the wrath of the invaders, The Science Explorer reported.

After the discovery of ‘Otzi the Iceman’ researchers and archaeologists have invested a lot of time to have a broader understanding of the prehistoric lifestyle of the people who lived in the region, especially the clothes and gear they utilized in their day to day life.


fmssolution is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival