The results of a recent study performed on the Shigir Idol—considered the OLDEST monumental art in history—and published in the scientific journal Antiquity has determined that this incredible ancient statue was carved around 11,600 years ago, by the survivors of the last Ice Age.
This makes this enigmatic idol twice as old as Egypt’s pyramids — and 6000 years older than Stonehenge.
When it was crafted, nearly twelve thousand years ago, the enigmatic Shigir Idol is believed to have stood 16 feet tall and was covered in countless ancient symbols.
Many experts around the world refer to it as the oldest piece on monumental art, and it was crafted by a mysterious people who survived the last ice age, some 12,000 years ago.
The idol was crafted from a single trunk of Larchwood and was carved into a smooth plank. Covered with intricately engraved patterns, the Shigir idol was topped with a stylized, human-like head.
The enigmatic idol was discovered in Russia in 1894 in Russia and survived a number of natural disasters including several fires.
It’s actually a miracle it was found.
Experts referred to the idol as the oldest evidence of monumental art, but experts weren’t one hundred percent sure as to exactly how old it was.
According to scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences and the University of Göttingen, a new analysis calculated that the idol is around 11,600 years ago.
What does this mean? Well, the last Ice Age ended some 11,700 years ago, which means that it was most likely crafted by people who survived the last ice age.
“Recent application of new analytical techniques has led to the discovery of new imagery on its surface and has pushed the date of the piece back to the earliest Holocene. The results of these recent analyses are placed here in the context of local and extra-local traditions of comparable prehistoric art. This discussion highlights the unique nature of the find and its significance for appreciating the complex symbolic world of Early Holocene hunter-gatherers.”
“We have to conclude hunter-gatherers had complex ritual and expression of ideas. Ritual doesn’t start with farming, but with hunter-gatherers,” Thomas Terberger said, via Science magazine, an archaeologist at the University of Göttingen in Germany and a co-author of the study.
It was reported initially that the first radiocarbon tests of the Shigir Idol revealed it was around 9,800 years old. This age caused quite a debate in the scientific community because experts refused to acknowledge that ‘hunter-gatherers’ at that time were able to create such a complex piece of art.
But the more experts dig into the matter, to more mysterious and fascinating it gets.
“The further you go inside, the older [the date] becomes—it’s very indicative some sort of preservative or glue was used” Olaf Jöris, an archaeologist at the Monrepos Archaeological Research Centre and Museum for Human Behavioural Evolution—who wasn’t involved with the study—told Science magazine.
The statue is evidence that “Early Holocene hunter-gatherers clearly inhabited a symbolic world with richer and more complex forms of artistic expression than was previously believed,” the study’s authors wrote.
Featured Image Credit: D. Lobanov.