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Thread: Oldest Wooden Monumental Sculpture in the World

  1. #1
    Senior Member United States skywizard's Avatar
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    Oldest Wooden Monumental Sculpture in the World

    Sculpture is the oldest wooden monument in the world, twice
    the age of the pyramids and 6,000 years older than Stonehenge.

    A towering, human-like figure carved from wood and discovered in a Russian peat bog is more than twice as old as the Egyptian pyramids, scientists have found.

    Gold miners discovered pieces of the elongated structure, dubbed the Shigir Idol, in 1894. But it wasn't until about 100 years later, in the late 1990s, that researchers did radiocarbon dating and found that the structure was about 9,900 years old, making it the oldest wooden monumental sculpture in the world.

    But this dating wasn't reliable because it included only two pieces from the idol. So scientists recently did a more exhaustive analysis and discovered that the idol is much, much older than previously thought — about 11,500 years old — meaning it was constructed just after the last ice age ended.

    This date makes the Shigir Idol more than double the age of the Great Pyramid of Egypt, which was built in about 2550 B.C. (date according to modern archaeology).

    In addition to updating the sculpture's birthday, the researchers found a previously unknown face carved into it.

    Incredible find

    It's a "miracle" that the Shigir Idol survived all this time, Terberger told Live Science. Researchers began studying the larch-carved figure after it was found in the Shigir peat bog, in Russia's Middle Ural Mountains. Pieced together, the sections of the humanoid idol stood more than 17 feet (5 meters) high.

    Unfortunately, some of those sections have since been lost, so the idol now stands about 11.1 feet (3.4 m) high. The public can see the carved anthropomorphic figure at the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum.

    If you come close to the sculpture, you will notice that the 'body' is decorated by geometric ornamentation and a few small human faces.

    Some 20 years after it was discovered, researcher Vladimir Yakovlevich Tolmachev drew illustrations of the idol, noting the structure's five faces, the researchers of the new study noted. In 2003, a sixth, animal-like face with a rectangular nose was found by study co-researcher Svetlana Savchenko, a scientist at the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum.

    A drawing of the Shigir sculpture, including (A) the position of the anthropomorphic
    face discovered in 2014 and (B) the position of an anthropomorphic face found in 2003.

    Just like a hidden-pictures game, the idol surprised researchers again in 2014, when Savchenko and lead study researcher Mikhail Zhilin, an archaeologist at the Institute of Archaeology in Moscow, discovered a seventh face concealed in the gnarled wood.

    These facial findings show that the early hunters, gatherers and fishers of Eurasia were making what was possibly spiritual art during the early Mesolithic, the researchers said.

    "Such a big sculpture was well visible for the hunter-gatherer community and might have been important to demonstrate their ancestry," Terberger said. "It is also possible that it was connected to specific myths and gods, but this is difficult to prove."

    Terberger noted that many researchers studying early humans focus on the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East. But the Shigir Idol indicates that these researchers should widen their search, given the "unexpected, complex monumental wooden art objects" of the Ural Mountains, he said.


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    Senior Member tarka the duck's Avatar
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    Absolutely fascinating. Thanks, SW!

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