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'Lake Baikal: the very name fills Russian hearts with awe'
Mike Carter, The Observer

Is this the world's oldest secret code?

By Anna Liesowska
22 October 2014

Scientists close to precise dating of the Shigir Idol, twice as ancient as the Egyptian Pyramids.

The oldest wooden statue in the world. Picture: Ekaterina Osintseva, The Siberian Times

The Idol is the oldest wooden statue in the world, estimated as having been constructed approximately 9,500 years ago, and preserved as if in a time capsule in a peat bog on the western fringe of Siberian. Expert Svetlana Savchenko, chief keeper of Shigir Idol, believes that the structure's faces carry encoded information from ancient man in the Mesolithic era of the Stone Age concerning their understanding of 'the creation of the world'.

German scientists are now close to a precise dating - within five decades - of the remarkable artifact, which is a stunning example of ancient man's creativity.

The results are likely to be known in late February or early March, The Siberian Times can reveal. 

Now the question is turning among academics to a better understanding of the symbols and pictograms on this majestic larch Idol, one of Russia's great treasures, which is now on display a special glass sarcophagus at its permanent home, Yekaterinburg History Museum, where Savchenko is senior researcher.

The Idol is the oldest wooden statue in the world, estimated as having been constructed approximately  9,500 years ago

There is no such ancient sculpture in the whole of Europe. Picture: Ekaterina Osintseva, The Siberian Times

German pre-historian Professor Thomas Terberger said: 'There is no such ancient sculpture in the whole of Europe. Studying this Idol is a dream come true. We are expecting the first results of the test at the end of winter, (early) next year.'

Professor Mikhail Zhilin, leading researcher of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Archeology, explained: 'We study the Idol with a feeling of awe. This is a masterpiece, carrying gigantic emotional value and force. It is a unique sculpture, there is nothing else in the world like this.  It is very alive, and very complicated at the same time. 

'The ornament is covered with nothing but encrypted information. People were passing on knowledge with the help of the Idol.'

He is adamant that we can draw conclusions about the sophistication of the people who created this masterpiece, probably scraping the larch with a stone 'spoon', even though the detail of the code remains an utter mystery to modern man. 

The Idol is the oldest wooden statue in the world, estimated as having been constructed approximately  9,500 years ago


The Idol is the oldest wooden statue in the world, estimated as having been constructed approximately  9,500 years ago


The Idol is the oldest wooden statue in the world, estimated as having been constructed approximately  9,500 years ago

This is a masterpiece, carrying gigantic emotional value and force. Pictures: Ekaterina Osintseva, The Siberian Times

Asked if they lived in permanent fear of mighty forces of mysterious nature, nervously casting around, petrified by danger, he replied: 'Forget it. The men - or man - who created the Idol lived in total harmony with the world, had advanced intellectual development, and a complicated spiritual world.'

'It is obvious that the elements of geometrical ornament had some meaning,' stated Savchenko and Zhilin in explaining the Idol's ancient markings. 

'The difficulty of interpretation is the polysemy symbolism of these symbols' - in other words, the possible multiple related meanings. According to ethnography, a straight line could denote land, or horizon - the boundary between earth and sky, water and sky, or the borderline between the worlds. 

'A wavy line or zigzag symbolised the watery element, snake, lizard, or determined a certain border. In addition, the zigzag signaled danger, like a pike. Cross, rhombus, square, circle depicted the fire or the sun, and so on.' 

Savchenko and other museum staff have postulated that among its purposes was that of an early map, or navigator. Straight lines, wave lines and arrows indicated ways of getting to the destination and the number of days for a journey, with waves meaning water path, straight lines meaning ravines, and arrows meaning hills, according to this theory which has yet to be fully researched. 

The Idol is the oldest wooden statue in the world, estimated as having been constructed approximately  9,500 years ago

The Idol is the oldest wooden statue in the world, estimated as having been constructed approximately  9,500 years ago

The ornament is covered with nothing but encrypted information. Pictures: Ekaterina Osintseva, The Siberian Times

Author Petr Zolin, citing scientific work by Savchenko and Zhilin, stated: 'The characters of Idol cannot have an unambiguous interpretation. If these are images of spirits that inhabited the human world in ancient times, the vertical position of figures (one above the other) probably relate to their hierarchy.

'Placing images on the front and back planes of the Idol, possibly indicate that they belong to different worlds. If there are depicted myths about the origin of humans and the world, the vertical arrangement of the images may reflect the sequence of events. Ornaments can be special signs which mark something as significant.'

The Idol reflects what these people looked like, with straight noses and high cheekbones.

The Idol is the oldest wooden statue in the world, estimated as having been constructed approximately  9,500 years ago


The Idol is the oldest wooden statue in the world, estimated as having been constructed approximately  9,500 years ago

The men - or man - who created the Idol lived in total harmony with the world, had advanced intellectual development, and a complicated spiritual world. Pictures: Ekaterina Osintseva, The Siberian Times

The impression of the main three-dimensional face, with a gaping mouth, is of an Aztec look, but it is only because the part of the nose of the main face was broken. In all there are seven faces, six of which are one dimensional. 

'It is clear that the faces together with the ornament form separate figures,' said Savchenko and Zhilin. 'On both the front and back of the Idol there are three figures. Here they are located one above the other, and the upper seventh figure...connects both sides and crowns the composition.'

Some have claimed the Idol includes primitive writing, which, if true, would be amongst the first on Earth, but there is no consensus among experts who have studied the Urals statue. 

The Idol was preserved due to a stroke of luck concerning its resting place in the Urals. 

It happened 'thanks to a combination of antiseptics,' said Professor Zhilin. 'The idol was made from the Phytoncidic larch, then 'canned' in turf which is an acid anaerobic environment that kills microorganism-destroyers and also has a tanning effect.' 

The Idol is the oldest wooden statue in the world, estimated as having been constructed approximately  9,500 years ago

Some have claimed the Idol includes primitive writing, which, if true, would be amongst the first on Earth. Picture: Ekaterina Osintseva, The Siberian Times

The scientists from the Lower Saxony State Office for Cultural Heritage are using AMS - accelerated mass spectrometry - enabling them to compare analysis of five microscopic samples of the larch from the idol with climate changes data for the past 10,000 years. 

This will allow them to figure out when exactly the 159 year old larch - from which the Idol is carved - grew. 

The tests follow what Professor Terberger called 'a very successful summer trip'  in which 'we worked together with our Russian colleagues from the Yekaterinburg History Museum'.

The Idol was originally recovered in January 1890 near Kirovograd; some 2.8 metres in height, it appears to have seven faces. It was protected down the millennia by a four metre layer of peat bog on the site of an open air gold mine.

Lack of funding has, until now, prevented the proper age testing of this Urals treasure. Professor Uwe Hoysner,  from Berlin Archaeological Institute said: 'The Idol is carved from larch, which, as we see by the annual rings, was at least 159 years old. The samples we selected contain important information about the isotopes that correspond to the time when the tree grew.' 

The samples used for testing were cut in 1997. The Idol was extracted in several parts from the peat bog. 

The Idol is the oldest wooden statue in the world, estimated as having been constructed approximately  9,500 years ago


The Idol is the oldest wooden statue in the world, estimated as having been constructed approximately  9,500 years ago


The Idol is the oldest wooden statue in the world, estimated as having been constructed approximately  9,500 years ago

First reconstructions of the Idol as walking and standing upright, archeologist Vladimir Tolmachev and his drawings of the Idol, and marked faces of the Idol.  Pictures: Yekaterinburg History Museum 

Professor Dmitry. I. Lobanov combined the main fragments to reconstitute the sculpture 2.80m high but in 1914 the Siberian archaeologist Vladimir Tolmachev proposed a variant of this reconstruction by integrating previously unused fragments.

Tragically, some of these fragments were later lost, so only Tolmachev's drawings of them remain.However, these suggest the original height of the statue was 5.3 metres. Some 1.93 metres of the statue did not survive the 20th century's revolutions and wars and it is only visible on his drawings.

But even the size is it now makes it the highest wooden statue in the world. 

One intriguing question debated by Russian scientists is how the Idol - as tall as a two-storey house - was kept in a vertical position. 

Museum staff believe it was never dug into the ground to help it stand upright, and that it was unlikely it was perched against a tree, because it would have covered more than half of its ornaments. 

Comments (53)

A lot of theories here, but you're all forgetting the real discovery here: the fact that this was carved in an era where man was only just "rising". So even if it is just a piece of wood that someone or a group of people made, it has a purpose that makes it stand out more. "Its just a calendar" OK maybe, but how did someone have the mathematical skills to calculate that so long ago? "They're just shapes" fair enough, but how do we get the hypotenuse, circumference, etc? By using shapes and their dimensions. Wake up and stop being so ignorant.
What's it tooya, USA
06/09/2015 23:32
4
1
It is the first inhabitant of Earth, the 'wood man'.
Alex Busby, Madagascar
05/09/2015 19:20
3
0
This is a seasonal calendar, it did not stand upright, it would lay on a mound at an angle depending on the latitude, .
George, Sicamous, BC
31/08/2015 21:49
6
2
Where is this 'Encrypted' message? Looks like geometric shapes. No Alien Code or weird stuff. Need to find Giorgio Tsoukalos from Ancient Aliens! Looks like an Ice Aged Totem.
Steve, Charlotte, NC
31/08/2015 06:02
6
0
Wow, so many imaginative statements coming from so little to go on. What could be decoration becomes complicated proof of code, world view, intellectual level, etc.. A lot of people seeing what they want to. Know what this really is? It's a carved piece of wood. There it is.
James C., New York USA
30/08/2015 19:47
10
3



It looks just like a Totem Pole.


Hicks, USA
27/08/2015 22:47
4
1
Interessante.
Andrea, Brasil
29/05/2015 23:02
0
0
wright on time.sculpture is old ying-yang(lookingman in the mirror) it's represents a human(spiritual) ascension.Decart coordinating system. Best wishes!!!
leo, serbia
28/05/2015 02:57
2
1
interesting that russia would allow this sculpture to go to germany for research.
carol, america
27/05/2015 02:36
3
0
There's more in that peat bog. I hope they're looking.
Rebecca, Indiana, USA
27/02/2015 11:45
10
1
It seems that it is a calender with the triangles on each side representing the half year intervals from the summer solstice to the mid way fall equinox to the winter solstice and then opposite the winter solstice to the spring equinox to the summer solstice. Therefore the Diamond represents one whole year.
scott betton, usa
13/02/2015 05:05
6
0
Hey, lets put up a scare crow to keep them pesky neanderthals out of our gold mine while we are away?
Also its got some value to a nomadic people, in a tree less area you can raise a man, and his horizon?
While we are at it, and we have had this thing for so long, lets decorate it?
They were men, so just think like a man. (a hu-man)
mitch, tuxedo new york
08/11/2014 19:20
5
0
What once were considered quaint tourist artifacts turned out to be maps made by ancient Polynesian navigators. Many'codes' ie geometric angle lines, horizontal and vertical, circular etc could only be decoded through a system developed by these navigators. To the uninformed these maps were a source of wallpaper inspired by the need to decorate. Whatever the reason was for these ancient people to carve this artifact I find it amazing that we're able to have a glimpse into a time that is long gone. The need to know why they carved it is a mystery only in our minds....still tho.....
JZ, Toronto, Canada
03/11/2014 04:00
5
2
That piece you display was made for them by an alien force for their education. It was a representation of the "father figure" or they who made them. It is not represented in it's truest way due to erosion of certain parts which would have defined it further to authorities. It will not be long before you find greater evidence of this. Keep looking , but time will tell in the end. No more forthcoming.
Domenic, Albuquerque, USA
03/11/2014 03:30
3
9
My psychic investigations say that the "white race" which was about 7' tall at the time originated on a plateau of sorts in Northeast Siberia. It is under snow at this point and inaccessible. Periods came and went with different changes made to each group of whites present. Some were meant to supersede one another so as the complete a picture of different evolutionary patterns that would be examined as possible templates for alien development in their own distant past. The whites weren't the only ones. These were meant to survive the ice age. And later were forced to develop according to preconceived notions of what should be happening at what point. Bear is in them to develop mass to protect against wind and the like. More coming.
Domenic, Albuquerque, United States
03/11/2014 03:25
0
10

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