Mysterious wooden statue that once stood over 17 FEET TALL is twice as old as the pyramids in Egypt and may hold clues about the mythology of hunter-gatherers that lived 11,600 years ago
- The Shigir Idol was discovered in a Russian peat bog in 1894 by gold miners
- Earlier estimates suggested it was 9,500 years old, but it’s now said to be older
- Core samples collected in 2014 show it is likely around 11,600 years old
- Researchers say its markings may offer clues on hunter gatherer spiritual beliefs
In 1894, Russian gold miners stumbled upon an unusual wooden object in the Shigir peat bog 62 miles north of Yekaterinburg.
It’s estimated that the eerie sculpture once stood over 17 feet tall when fully assembled, with zig-zag lines etched all over its body – and, it has eight human-like faces carved into it.
While previous research has suggested the wooden humanoid was made about 9,500 years ago, more advanced analyses in recent years indicate it’s actually much older.
Now, experts say the massive effigy is likely over 11,000 years old, making it one of the oldest known anthropomorphic sculptures in the world, and may provide a glimpse into the spiritual beliefs of hunter gatherers.
Scroll down for video
It’s more than twice as old as Egypt’s famous pyramids, yet remarkably, much of the wooden sculpture has survived the years. But, some parts have been lost to time. While it once likely stood over 17 feet tall, it now looms at just over 11 feet
The sculpture, known as the Shigir Idol, is now housed at the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum.
It’s more than twice as old as Egypt’s famous pyramids, yet remarkably, much of the wooden sculpture has survived the years.
Some parts, however, have been lost; now, the statue stands at just over 11 feet tall.
According to the latest analysis, published in the journal Antiquity, the sculpture was made from a larch tree by ancient artists who used a polished stone adze and stone chisels of at least two or three different sizes to create its characteristic markings.
And, the researchers say the mysterious zig-zags all over its body may be linked to ancient spiritual beliefs.
In addition to the sculpted head at the top of the statue, there are several other faces carved into it.
Each of these appear ‘distinctly individual,’ the researchers wrote.
The detailed markings thus may be representative of the mythologies of the people who lived in the region.
‘We have to conclude hunter-gatherers had complex ritual and expression of ideas,’ co-author Thomas Terberger, and archaeologist at the University of Göttingen in Germany, told Science Mag.
In addition to the sculpted head at the top of the statue, there are several other faces carved into it. The head of the wooden sculpture and the anthropomorphic face on fragment 7 are shown above
‘Ritual doesn’t start with farming, but with hunter-gatherers.’
While the sculpture is made of several different pieces, the researchers say the wood all came from the same log.
The tree trunk was first split into two halves, then a long plank was cut from it to create the figure.
‘The tree rings are visible on different fragments of the body, confirming that all of these belong to the same trunk,’ the researchers wrote.
WHAT ARE THE MYSTERIOUS MARKINGS ON THE SHIGIR IDOL?
The Shigir Idol is covered in carvings, including what looks like code.
The sculpture, known as the Shigir Idol, is now housed at the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum
Professor Mikhail Zhilin, leading researcher of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Archeology said: ‘The ornament is covered with nothing but encrypted information. People were passing on knowledge with the help of the Idol.’
While the messages remain ‘an utter mystery to modern man’, the Russian academic said its creators ‘lived in total harmony with the world, had advanced intellectual development, and a complicated spiritual world’.
Svetlana Savchenko, chief keeper of Shigir Idol at Yekaterinburg History Museum, concluded that ‘a straight line could denote land, or horizon – the boundary between earth and sky, water and sky, or the borderline between the worlds.
‘A wavy line or zigzag symbolised water, snake, lizard, or determined a certain border.
‘In addition, the zigzag signalled danger, like a pike. Cross, rhombus, square, circle depicted the fire or the sun, and so on.’
But the marks could have multiple meanings for the ancient makers who gave the idol seven faces, only one of which is in 3D.
‘If these are images of spirits that inhabited the human world in ancient times, the vertical position of figures (one above the other) probably relate to hierarchy,’ said Petr Zolin.
‘Images on the front and back planes of the Idol, possibly indicate that they belong to different worlds.
‘If there are depicted myths about the origin of humans and the world, the vertical arrangement of the images may reflect the sequence of events. Ornaments can be special signs which mark something as significant.’
Mr Savchenko argues that the idol tells the story of the ‘creation of the world’ as understood by Mesolithic man.
Radiocarbon dating conducted in the 1990s was the first to suggest that the stunning piece was made by hunter-gatherers.
And, researchers were able to get a more precise date on the Shigir Idol’s age using a core sample from the ancient log taken in 2014, revealing it to be roughly 11,600 years old.
What exactly the sculpture depicts still largely remains a mystery.
‘Above all, however,’ the researchers wrote, ‘the Shigir sculpture is unique within the early art of Eurasia and offers the potential for a better understanding of the spiritual world of early hunter-gatherer-fishers of the forest zone of Eurasia.’
Source: Read Full Article