|The Shigir Idol|
Story at The Daily Mail, along with a multitude of photos and graphics.
World's oldest wooden statue is TWICE as old as the pyramids: New analysis reveals Shigir Idol is more ancient than first thought
- Shigir Idol was discovered in a peat bog in Kirovgrad, Siberia in 1890
- Perfectly-preserved wooden statue was thought to be 9,500 years old
- Dating technology revealed its 1,500 years older than previously thought
- Idol is covered in mysterious carvings which have yet to be deciphered, but could depict snakes, danger and even spirits in different worlds
A stunning wooden statue pulled from a Russian peat bog 125 years ago has been dated as being 11,000 years old after 'sensational' new analysis.
This means the remarkable Shigir Idol, which is covered in ‘encrypted code’ and may be a message from ancient man, is by far the oldest wooden sculpture in the world.
Previous dating attempts claimed it was made 9,500 years ago. By comparison, Stonehenge dates back 4,614 years, while the haunting Russian wooden sculpture is also more than twice as old as the Egyptian pyramids.
But in fact, it is one and a half millennia older, according to the latest research by German scientists. 'We can say the results are sensational,' a source at Sverdlovsk Regional History Museum told The Siberian Times. The museum said the dating used the world's most sophisticated technology and was undertaken to remove doubts about the age of the idol.
The idol was originally dug out of a peat bog in the Ural Mountains in 1890.
'The first attempt to date the idol was made 107 years after its discovery, in 1997. The first radiocarbon analyses showed the idol was 9,500 calendar years old, which led to disputes in the scientific community.
'To exclude doubts, and to make the results known and accepted, a decision was made to use the most modern technologies to date the idol again,’ the source said.
'Research was conducted in Mannheim, Germany, at one of the world's most advanced laboratories using Accelerated Mass Spectrometry, on seven minuscule wooden samples. The results were astonishing, as samples from inside parts of the idol showed its age as 11,000 calendar years, to the very beginning of the Holocene epoch.
'We also learned that the sculpture was made from a larch which was at least 157 years old. Clear cuts on the tree trunk leave no doubts that the idol was made from a freshly cut tree, by stone tools.'
The source concluded: 'The research proves that the Big Shigir Idol is the world's oldest wooden sculpture, and an outstanding discovery, a key to understanding Eurasian art.'
The peat bog preserved the idol 'as if in a time capsule' on the western fringes of Siberia.
The ancient monument stands 9ft (2.8 metres) in height but originally was 17ft (5.3 metres) tall - as high as a two storey house. In the Soviet era, two metres of the ancient artefact went missing, though drawings were made of it by pre-revolutionary archaeologist Vladimir Tolmachev.
Professor Mikhail Zhilin, lead researcher of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Archaeology, has spoken previously of his 'feeling of awe' when studying the idol. 'This is a masterpiece, carrying gigantic emotional value and force,' he said.
'It is a unique sculpture, there is nothing else in the world like this. It is very alive, and very complicated at the same time. The ornament is covered with nothing but encrypted information. People were passing on knowledge with the help of the idol.' [Except we CAN'T READ IT! So much for our vaunted technology and scientific sophistication. Ha!]
While the messages remain 'an utter mystery to modern man', it was clear that the figure’s creators 'lived in total harmony with the world, had advanced intellectual development, and a complicated spiritual world', he said.
The markings and hieroglyphics could have multiple meanings for the ancient statue-makers who gave the idol seven faces, only one of which is three-dimensional, say academics. '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 their hierarchy,' said author Petr Zolin, citing scientific work by Svetlana Savchenko, chief keeper of Shigir Idol, and Zhilin.
'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.'
Professor Thomas Terberger, of the Department of Cultural Heritage of Lower Saxony, and Ewe Hoysner, from the Berlin Archaeological Institute, were the German scientists involved in dating the idol.