Yanked from a bog in eastern Russia more than 100 years ago, a wooden statue was on Monday revealed to be more than 11,000 years old -- twice the age of Stonehenge. The carbon dating, carried out by scientists in Mannheim, Germany, is likely to redefine the study of ancient human civilizations.
Using an Accelerated Mass Spectrometry to reveal its ancient origins, the discovery means the artifact is 1,500 years older than previously thought, and is now officially the oldest wooden sculpture in the world. Depicting a man, the statue boasts a series of strange inscription, possibly ancient coding about the universe, according to experts.
Speaking to the Siberian Times, Thomas Terberger, an academic at the Department of Cultural Heritage of Lower Saxony, said the result “exceeded” his expectations.
“This is an extremely important date for the international scientific community. It is important for understanding the development of civilisation and the art of Eurasia and humanity as a whole,” he said, adding: “We can say that in those times, 11,000 years ago, the hunters, fishermen and gatherers of the Urals were no less developed than the farmers of the Middle East.”
The statue is currently on display at the Sverdlovsk History Museum in Yekaterinburg, Russia. An expert for the museum said: “The first attempt to date the idol was made 107 years after its discovery, in 1997. The first radiocarbon analyses showed that idol was 9,500 calendar years old, which led to disputes in scientific society.”
Called the Shigir Idol, the statue was found in the Urals in western Siberia in the late nineteenth century, with the composition of the bog preserving the carving. The artifact was originally thought to stand around 17-feet high, but currently runs to nine-foot in length. Scientists determined the idol was carved from a larch tree that was 157-years-old when felled.
Speaking last year, Professor Mikhail Zhilin of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Archeology, said: “This is a masterpiece, carrying gigantic emotional value and force, a unique sculpture; there is nothing else in the world like this.” On the markings, he noted: "People were passing on knowledge with the help of the idol," he said, calling it "an utter mystery to modern man."