One of Russia’s greatest treasures, the Big Shigir Idol, has been dated by German scientists – and the results are ‘sensational’.
More than twice the age of the Egyptian pyramids, the wooden monument – found in a peat bog in the Urals in 1890 – is 1,500 years older than previously suspected, according to the world’s most advanced dating technology.
‘We can say the results are sensational,’ said a source at Sverdlovsk Regional History Museum, where the breathtaking monument is on display.
‘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. 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 Idol is the oldest wooden statue in the world, preserved as if in a time capsule in a peat bog on the western fringe of Siberia. Expert Svetlana Savchenko, chief keeper of Shigir Idol, believes that the structure’s faces carry encoded information from ancient man in the Mesolithic era of the Stone Age concerning their understanding of ‘the creation of the world’.
German scientists are now close to a precise dating – within five decades – of the remarkable artifact, which is a stunning example of ancient man’s creativity.
Now the question is turning among academics to a better understanding of the symbols and pictograms on this majestic larch Idol, one of Russia’s great treasures, which is now on display a special glass sarcophagus at its permanent home, Yekaterinburg History Museum, where Savchenko is senior researcher
While the messages remain ‘an utter mystery to modern man’, the Russian academic said its creators ‘lived in total harmony with the world, had advanced intellectual development, and a complicated spiritual world’.
With Svetlana Savchenko, chief keeper of Shigir Idol at Yekaterinburg History Museum, he concludes that ‘a straight line could denote land, or horizon – the boundary between earth and sky, water and sky, or the borderline between the worlds.
‘A wavy line or zigzag symbolised the watery element, snake, lizard, or determined a certain border. In addition, the zigzag signaled danger, like a pike. ‘Cross, rhombus, square, circle depicted the fire or the sun, and so on’.