11,000 Years Old: New Dating of Shigir Idol reveals it is Oldest Wooden Sculpture in the World
The incredible Shigir Idol, wooden wonder from the prehistoric world, has been precisely dated by leading German scientists, and the results are sensational. The tall, carved wooden statue has been determined to be 11,000 years old, 1,500 years older than previously thought, making it the is the oldest of its kind in the world.
The significant findings were presented at a press conference August 27 in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The idol was previously held to be 9,500 years old.
“Researches were 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,” reported The Siberian Times.
By comparison, the haunting humanoid statue is more than twice as old as the pyramids of Giza, a status made even more amazing by the fact that it is made of wood.
Illustration of the Shigir Idol. Public Domain
Standing taller than a two story building—it is 2.8 meters (9.2 feet) long, though it was originally 5.3 meters (17.4 feet) before lengths of the artifact were accidentally destroyed during the Soviet era—the idol is thought to have been a larch tree more than a century old, which was shaped and decorated using a stone spoon implement.
The body of the prehistoric sculpture is flat and rectangular, and horizontal lines cross at approximate chest level, appearing to represent ribs. The ancient makers gave the idol seven faces at different levels of the statue, suggesting to academics that the positions likely relate to a hierarchy. Three figures are located one above the other on both the front and the back, and a seventh figure connects both sides, completing the composition.
Researchers believe that the idol’s high cheekbones and straight nose may reflect what the creators looked like at the time.
Shigir Idol - the oldest wooden sculpture in the world, now dated back 11,000 years. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )
The incredible wooden sculpture was pulled from peat bog in the in the western fringes of Siberia, Russia, 125 years ago. As if in a time capsule, the idol sat excellently preserved some four meters (13.5 feet) below the ground, protected by the anti-bacterial properties of peat, which prevented decomposition.
The sculpture was found in numerous fragments, but when pieced together, it was discovered the surface was covered in Mesolithic symbols and geometric designs, including: chevrons, straight lines, herring-bone hatching, squiggly lines, and more. If these are a purposeful message of primitive writing, it would make the Shigir Idol the world’s oldest code on the planet.
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These mysterious markings have not been deciphered as yet, but many suspect they may carry encoded information. If translated, we may glean information on Mesolithic man’s understanding of the natural and spiritual world.
Does the Shigir Idol contain coded messages? “Faces” appear throughout the sculpture. (Screengrab from YouTube video: Nemesis Maturity )
Leading researcher and professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Archaeology, Mikhail Zhilin, believes this might be the case, saying “This is a masterpiece, carrying gigantic emotional value and force. It is a unique sculpture, there is nothing else in the world like this… The ornament is covered with nothing but encrypted information. People were passing on knowledge with the help of the Idol,” reports MailOnline.
The messages remain “an utter mystery to modern man”, but Zhilin says the prehistoric craftsmen must have “lived in total harmony with the world, had advanced intellectual development, and a complicated spiritual world.”
The new research is a victory for Russian academics who had been defending the idol’s age to some skeptics in the scientific community.
The Siberian Times writes that Natalia Vetrova, general director of the Sverdlovsk Regional History Museum said earlier claims “were not recognized by the international scientific community. And we wanted to know for sure, and tell the world how old our Idol is.”
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Thomas Terberger, professor at the Department of Cultural Heritage of Lower Saxony was involved in the recent dating of the idol. He said, “The results exceeded our expectations. The age of the Shigir idol is 11,000 years.