Subscribe to Archaeology

Scientists Reevaluate Date of Russia’s Shigir Idol

Monday, April 5, 2021

Shigir IdolYEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA—Live Science reports that a team of researchers has reexamined the radiocarbon dates obtained in 2018 for the Shigir Idol, a wooden carving discovered in a peat bog in the Ural Mountains in 1890. The sculpture, which features a human face and geometric motifs, is thought to have stood more than 17 feet tall. The scientists originally estimated that the wood was about 11,500 years old, based upon an average of the dates obtained for samples taken from various parts of the carving. But examination of the surface of the idol revealed it had been treated with wax and wood pigment over the years, and carbon in these materials may have skewed the results of radiocarbon dating. “We have concluded that the samples from the innermost part [of the statue] were not affected by the treating of the sculpture and that these results are the most reliable,” said team leader archaeologist Thomas Terberger of the state Agency of Heritage Service in Germany’s Lower Saxony. Those innermost samples indicate the wood, from the heart of the tree, is 12,250 years old. The tree was probably felled and carved about 150 years later, Terberger explained, pushing back the age of the Shigir Idol to about 12,100 years old. For more, go to "World Roundup: Russia."

Advertisement

Advertisement


Advertisement