Mesolithic sanctuary reveals evidence of ritual and astronomical practice
Archaeologists have uncovered evidence for the practice of rituals and possible astronomical practices in Western Pomerania, dating back to the Mesolithic period, at least 9,000 years ago, according to a report on PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland.
The discovery was made in Bolków near lake Świdwie in Western Pomerania, where archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology in Szczecin, Poland, discovered a Mesolithic sanctuary.
The site was made famous earlier this year, when researchers discovered a hut containing a meteorite fragment, along with a large group of sacral objects, including an amulet, a so-called ‘magic staff’ fashioned from antlers and decorated with geometric motifs, and an engraved bone spear. Taken together, the collection of objects led the researchers to believe that the site in which the ancient inhabitants engaged in some form of ritual or ceremony.
The meteorite fragment shown from different angles. Credit: Nauka w Polsce
Since then, researchers have continued to excavate the site and have now uncovered the remains of two pine and aspen pole structures which would have stood to a height of some 1.5 metres. Inside the structures, archaeologists found a single bundle containing pieces of pine and birch, animal bones, and bunches of grass.
“These findings are very eloquent, direct evidence that the beliefs and rituals Mesolithic societies were inextricably linked to the world of animals and plants from which depended on their being economical. Bundles contain key elements of the contemporary environment,” said Professor Tadeusz Galinski, head of research.
In addition to the structures, researchers found seven perfectly preserved yew stalks embedded in the ground in a very distinctive pattern. According to Professor Galinski, the pattern corresponds to the constellation known as Ursa Major (the Great Bear) – the brightest star of which is the so-called Big Dipper.
Seven yew blades were found embedded in the ground in a distinctive pattern resembling the constellation Ursa Major. Credit: Tadeusz Galinski
Ursa Major (inset: position of Yew stakes.) Main Image: Manfred Wassmann
The researchers believe that the discovery of the meteorite fragment and bundles of sacral objects, along with the possible astronomical discovery, suggests that shamans played an important role in Mesolithic communities, developing an interest in the mysteries of the sky, and honouring special elements in the natural world around them.
Featured image: A Mesolithic settlement. Crown Copyright reproduced courtesy of Historic Scotland.