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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 (54)

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
11
I agree with Tmara. I know it's common as a generic default, but journalists and scientists should be conscious of gender assumptions and say ancient humans or ancient people instead of ancient man. And for the scientist himself to be saying "The men - or man - who created [it]" shows some unfortunate assumptions that will hold back our understanding of our ancestors.
Siri, USA
31/10/2014 23:38
6
3
As an artist [having worked primarily as a sculptor] I observed with an especially informed eye and saw right away that there should be arms and other physical elements that would have identified the piece more accurately as a totem, and that they were, in point of fact, missing. It really bothered me until - as I read further - I saw that this was indeed the case.



This is unfortunate in the extreme mainly because it places the piece out of its proper context allowing for a more esoteric identification that it actually warrants - adding to it an unnecessarily mysterious dimension. Decorative elements on 'his' garments become a palette for secret codes and/or maps. I saw no codes, hidden messages, or secret symbols at all. These elements [and extended esoteric meanings] seem to have been 'superimposed' by zealous academics, anthropologists, and cultural historians.
Philip De Genova, Philadelphia PA
31/10/2014 21:44
16
1
It's marvelous! I have primitive soup spoons here that remind me of it; ((:
DRM, Brandon, USA
29/10/2014 02:17
2
1
La Humanidad alcanzó un alto nivel de civilización a lo menos 10.000 años antes de nuestra era. En Siberia, Anatolia (Turquía), Costa sumergida de India, etc. se encuentran nuevas pruebas de civilizaciones perdidas.
Sólo los arqueólogos "tradicionales" insisten en Sumeria y Egipto como las primeras civilizaciones.
Juan Raña, Santiago de Chile
28/10/2014 22:31
1
0
If you take the king james bible as literal history, you're an idiot.
jason, wpg.Canada
28/10/2014 17:10
10
4
WELL, WELL, WELL. THE SCRIPTURES TEACH 4,000 YRS. FROM ADAM TO JESUS CHRIST. TWO THOUSAND YEARS IN THE PRESENT CHURCH AGE, AND A THOUSAND YEAR MILLIENIAL REIGN OF JESUS CHRIST RULING IN HIS KINGDOM UPON THE EARTH. THEN ETERNITY. WHEN THE LORD PUT ADAM, AND EVE IN THE EARTH HE STATED THAT HE REPLINISHED THE EARTH. IMPLYING THAT THERE WAS SOMETHING HERE BEFORE ADAM, AND EVE. GUESS THIS PROVES THAT TRUTH.
JAMES FORD, LOMA LINDA, MISSOURI. U.S.A.
27/10/2014 08:53
4
44
It looks eerily similar to Chinookan (Columbia River) (Washington and Oregon) style artifacts!
mechele Johnson, washington state
27/10/2014 03:37
4
2
The men or man who created it? "....How can a scientist presume it was created by a man, any more than a woman, or even a team of artists? Making assumptions about something impossible to verify, or even to hint at might show assumptions are being made in other aspects of the research, such as the meaning of the symbols, if they are symbols, and not decoration.
Tmara, Bree, middle earth
26/10/2014 21:05
22
21
I'd love a miniature of this beauty; to put on my mantle-piece, it would be the biggest attraction in me house. Don't tell the wife...I said that. Please?!
jojnjo, Dublin
26/10/2014 10:25
8
0
Holy Cow, that is eally something. To think that they had codes 9500 years ago is something. People in that part of the world really know their stuff



Jane Davison, Geneva, N.Y USA
26/10/2014 09:17
5
3
Firstly, sacred trees, sacred groves, and animistic wood practices (embodied with a spiritual significance) are documented throughout Eurasia, specifically in the area this was found. There is archaeological evidence for ancient tree/totem worship, as well as ethnographic evidence (see Nenet, Yugra and Mansi peoples/al Gharnati travelogues). Remnants of the practice can be seen in practices such as the Maypole/Green George, and stewardship of sacred groves is still practiced in parts of northern Russia.





Secondly, the facial features and anthropomorphic design more closely resemble Cycladic (specifically Spedos variety) art, not Aztec. To associate this artefact with Aztec or New World practice shows a decided lack of archaeological knowledge or academic study on the part of the "researcher."
Alana, US
26/10/2014 01:31
11
4
Perhaps something like a "Clan flag".
Ingrid , Canada
26/10/2014 00:50
4
0
"perched next to a tree" maybe it was carved in a tree? Interesting regardless.......
BA Klipp, San Marcos, United States
25/10/2014 23:24
6
0
A wonderful artifact but unfortunately, this is another sad example of archaeologists getting carried away with their interpretations with no data to back them up. Virtually everything said by them is wishful thinking.
Bill Hunt, USA
25/10/2014 22:30
27
1

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