The Shigir Idol (Russian: Шигирский идол), is the most ancient wooden sculpture in the world, made during the Mesolithic period and was carved around 11,000 years ago. It is displayed in the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum of Local Lore in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
The idol was discovered on January 24, 1894 at a depth of 4 m (13 ft) in the peat bog of Shigir, on the eastern slope of the Middle Urals, approximately 100 km (62 mi) from Yekaterinburg. Investigations in this area had begun 40 years earlier after the discovery of a variety of prehistoric objects in an open-air gold mine.
It was extracted in several parts; professor D. I. Lobanov combined the main fragments to reconstitute a sculpture 2.80 m (9 ft 2 in) high.
In 1914, archaeologist Vladimir Tolmachev proposed a variant of this reconstruction by integrating the unused fragments. The reconstruction suggested that the original height of the statue was 5.3 metres.
Some of these fragments were later lost, so only Tolmachev's drawings of them remain.
The radiocarbon dating carried out by G. I. Zajtseva of the Institute of the History for the Material Culture in Saint-Petersburg, confirmed by the Geological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, gave an age of 9,500 years. A later German analysis gave an age of 11,000 years. It is the most ancient known wooden sculpture of its kind in the world.
The Idol is carved from larch. As identified from the annual rings, the tree was at least 159 years old. Stone tools were used for carving the markings. The head reproduces a face with eyes, nose, and mouth. The body is flat and rectangular. Geometrical motifs decorate its surface. Horizontal lines at the level of the thorax may represent ribs, and lines broken in chevrons cover the rest of the body. Along with the face at the top, several faces are visible at various points along the sculpture.
The ornamentation on the idol was carved using three different sizes of chisels. In addition, Professor Mikhail Zhilin claims that the faces were carved last of all, using tools made from the lower jaw bones of a beaver, with sharpened incisor teeth. A beaver's jaw tool from the same period was found at the Beregovaya 2 site.
- Понизовкин, Андрей (September 2003). Куда шагал Шигирский идол? (PDF). Наука Урала (in Russian) (20-2003 ). Ural Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences.
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- "Beaver's teeth 'used to carve the oldest wooden statue in the world'". The Siberian Times. 15 June 2017. Retrieved 16 June 2017.