Shigir Idol: The World’s Oldest Wooden Sculpture

Nov 27, 2015 1 comments

In the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum of Local Lore in Yekaterinburg, Russia, is a 9 feet tall wooden statue enclosed in a glass box. Called the Shigir Idol, it is the most ancient wooden sculpture in the world, made 11,000 ago or about the same time man discovered farming. The original statue was even taller — 17 feet. During Russian's 20th century political turmoil, more than 8 feet of the idol was destroyed.

The incredible discovery was made in 1894 in a peat bog in Shigir, on the eastern slope of the Middle Urals, approximately 100 km from Yekaterinburg. The sculpture was found broken in numerous fragments, but otherwise unharmed, thanks to the excellent preservation properties of peat. When the fragments were pieced together, an immense figure of a man emerged, its surface covered in Mesolithic symbols and geometric designs, whose meaning the archeologists are still puzzling over.


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The idol is thought to have been made from a larch tree which was more than a century and a half old. Stone tools were used to carve and shape the body, and to make the various markings. The body of the prehistoric sculpture is flat and rectangular, and horizontal lines cross at approximate chest level, appearing to represent ribs. Aside from the face at the top, the idol has six more faces carved at different levels of the statue, suggesting to academics that the positions likely relate to a hierarchy. Three figures are located one above the other on both the front and the back, and a seventh figure connects both sides, completing the composition. Researchers believe that the idol’s high cheekbones and straight nose may reflect what the creators looked like at the time, while the hieroglyphics could contain encoded information on the 'creation of the world' from ancient man.

The idol was initially dated to be 9,500 years old. But a more recent analysis made using modern dating techniques pushed the date even further to 11,000 years. This makes the statue more than twice as old as the Pyramid of Giza and as old as Göbekli Tepe, in modern-day Turkey, the oldest known example of prehistoric architecture.


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Sources: Siberian Times / Ancient Origins


  1. very interesting. Who say's there weren't 9 foot tool human's 11,000 years ago. Remember the Nephlims?


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