And what do the engravings mean? Svetlana Savchenko, the curator of the artifact and author of the study, speculates that the eight faces may contain encrypted information about ancestral spirits, the boundary between earth and heaven, or a creation myth. Although the memorial is unique, Dr. Savchenko bears a resemblance to the stone sculptures of the world’s longest-running temple, Göbekli Tepe, the ruins of which are in what is now Turkey, some 1,550 miles away. The temple’s stones were carved about 11,000 years ago, making them 1,500 years younger than the Shigir idol.
Marcel Niekus, archaeologist at the Foundation for Stone Age Research in the Netherlands, said the updated, older age of the Shigir idol confirmed that it was “a unique and unprecedented find in Europe. One might wonder how many similar pieces have been lost over time due to poor conservation conditions. “
The similarity of the geometric motifs to others across Europe during this period, he added, “testifies to long-distance contacts and a common sign language over large areas. The sheer size of the idol also seems to suggest that it was intended as a marker in the landscape that should be seen by other hunter-gatherer groups – perhaps as the boundary of a territory, as a warning or greeting. “
Dr. Zhilin has spent a lot of time over the past 12 years studying other peat bogs in the Urals. At one point he discovered numerous references to prehistoric carpentry – woodworking tools and a solid pine plank, roughly 11,300 years old, which he believes was smoothed with an adze. “There are a lot more unexplored bogs in the mountains,” said Dr. Zhilin. Unfortunately there are no ongoing excavations.
During a video call from his home in Moscow, Dr. Zhilin told his interviewer in the USA: “What do you think is the most difficult thing to find in the stone age archeology of the Urals?”
A break: websites?
“No,” he said and sighed softly. “Financing.”