The Stone Labyrinths of Bolshoi Zayatsky Island

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Bolshoi Zayatsky is a small island belonging to the Solovetsky archipelago in the Onega Bay of the White Sea, in Russia. The island is home to about 13 or 14 mysterious labyrinths as well as more than 850 heaps of boulders and numerous other stone settings such as a stone symbol with radial spokes, possibly representing the sun. The locals call them "vavilons".

The labyrinths are constructed from local boulders set in rows on the ground in the form of spirals. Often there are two spirals set one into another, which has been likened to "two serpents with their heads in the middle looking at each other". Intermittently along the spiral there are thicker or wider heaps of stones; the ends of the spirals are also wider. Each labyrinth has only one entrance which also serve as the exit. The smallest labyrinth measures around six meters in diameter, with the largest being 25.4 meters across.

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Photo credit: Weird Russia

It’s not clear why the stone labyrinths were built. It has been suggested they the labyrinths symbolised a border between this world and the underworld and they may have been used for specific rituals to help the souls of the dead travel to another world.

Another hypothesis is that the labyrinths were fish traps. Evidence of this comes from the fact that all of the labyrinths in the region were built close to the sea and water levels were much higher 5,000 years ago, when it is believed they were constructed. The fish would have swum in through the entrance and become trapped in the labyrinth, making it easier for fisherman to retrieve their catch.

Yet another theory is that within the lines of labyrinths was the schematic reflection of both the sun's and moon's orbits, and thus the labyrinths were used as calendars.

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Photo credit: Vitold Muratov/Wikimedia

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Photo credit: Andrew Shiva/Wikimedia

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Photo credit: Weird Russia

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Photo credit: Weird Russia

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Photo credit: Weird Russia

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Photo credit: Weird Russia

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Photo credit: Weird Russia

Sources: Wondermondo / Ancient Origin

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