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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)

This statue is amazing.



Now, refer to Squatting Man PDF by Anthony Peratt, Plasma cosmology. Some of the examples pictured closely resemble this statue.
lynn wood, United States
25/10/2014 13:13
2
1
I'm not sure why they are so quick to ascribe symbolic significance to these markings. People have very commonly used patterns like these simply for decoration. It's not good for scholars to assert more than they know.
Timothy Jones, Minneapolis, MN
25/10/2014 09:14
24
2
Maybe its just a family tree.
Rick, West Palm US
25/10/2014 08:19
7
1
I find it a sad testament to our limited knowledge of ancient items. This is being hailed as "the oldest", "the first" when we have no idea what else is yet waiting to be discovered. We are only discoverers of what has been left behind.
deaconsbench, USA
25/10/2014 05:02
5
1
Real history must be spoken. Those falsificats which are written by Germans after Berlin congres 1878. must be putted in garbage bucket of science. Real truth must come from East cause West is creator of falsificated life (history, culture, food, man/woman ralations, family...) which we live now. Those lies must be broken.
Serb, Belgrade
25/10/2014 04:07
5
17
After careful consideration I have to conclude that this whole totem is an elaborate calendar, and primitive sun dial. On the sides it shows: - 29 stripes for the days in a month (last 4 also point to the front, for a last 'month' of 26 days until the new year) - The cycles of the moon fall apart in 4 weeks, the cycle of the year, in 12.5 months. The front: (bottom to top) - The day and night, with difference in winter and summer 'sun'time - Probably the hours in a day, before and after the sun at it's highest peak. (face of sun here) - 7 stripes for the days of the week (a bar falls apart), there are 3 more of those bars (total of 4x7 = 28) and a day of the moon (for a total of 29). The moon has a cycle that holds 4 weeks, 2 half moons keep it apart. (off to the side mention) (face of moon here) - Likely the division of the day in hours, 3 extra hours in summer (blank bit to separate it visually), 4 or 5 hours b4 the hour of midday (center), 5/6 hours after, 3 extra hours after in summer. - Reconstructed face, The time of the moon (winter en darkness) /*reading on, on the front top, left side of drawing*/ - 3 stripes for the amount of moons after the winter ended, the month of the sun, summer solstice here. - 4 stripes for the remainder of moon cycles, until the autumn equinox. Double stripes, double/double meaning: cycle of the moon, during month and year. - count right sections blocked off (4), center sections blocked off (3) total 7. do it 2x, for a total of 14, then you reach the day of the moon. Do the same on the right side, for 14 again (29 days for the cycle of the moon) - Count right sections blocked off, until you reach the 5th (it has significance), count on the left outer side, then through the middle the whole blocks. Gives a total of 12 + the section with the face of the moon... read on, lightning is significant! => this section of the moon holds 26 days (amount of stripes). In a 29 day calendar, with the new year on 31okt (our calendar), there are 5 moons until the spring equinox (hence the significance of the 5th moon in the year). Then there are 3 moons until the Summer solstice. Then 4moons until the autumn exquinox, then there are 26/27 days/nights until 31 October. This division is presented 2x on the back side as well, then there is a display of a (from left side to top, then back down again) 4y cycle. Displaying 'new moon' on the new year, at the bottom, 1y till halve, next year full moon, then back to halve, then back to 'new' or 'no' moon. wkr ;)
Mightimouse, Netherlands
25/10/2014 03:48
40
5
Fantastic find, in Ireland we find bodies in our bogs all well preserved but nothing this old....
Frank Scott, Roscommon, Ireland
25/10/2014 03:35
3
0
I'm at best a history enthusiast, but how do we know it's a religious idol? If it's so tall could it have been used for something like a guidepost for travelers through a dangerous area? Is it just assumed everything has religious meaning?
Joshua, WV
25/10/2014 03:31
10
1
I will put a wild bit of speculation out. I wonder if this statue would fit in the placement of "squatting man" symbolism found throughout the world in rock art and some figurines from about the same time period as thought for carving of this statue. If the linear elements of the design agree with other "squatting man" depictions found at the same latitude it would be interesting to explore this possibility. Google squatting man, it is a developing conjecture that a plasma event occurred in the earth's ionosphere, that so dominated the night sky with auroral and boreal lights from a Z pinch event, that almost every group of humans on the planet felt compelled to record it as seen from their perspective on our planet.
lynn wood, United States
25/10/2014 03:24
3
0
When I was a child I would often sit and doodle, drawing interconnected geometric shapes, zig zags and squiggles, until I had filled an entire sheet of paper with amazingly intricate patterns. Often, when I see a new discovery of some ancient art, cave painting, rock or wood carving, a specialist is called upon to "decipher the meaning" and typically the meaning deciphered has a spiritual or religious tone. "It's an ancient code!!!" or "It's a message from/to the gods" and the like. Why, I wonder, do "experts" never say "Hey, maybe they were doodling."? Don't get me wrong, these a fascinating windows into our ancient past, but I often think to myself "If some archaeologist in the distant future were to come across my childhood doodles, what would they attribute them to?
Randy, Crestline CA
25/10/2014 02:22
6
4
ok the figure shows upon it the path of spiritual energy as it moves up through and around the chakra systym there are diagrams showing this in certain teachings ,today we have books to learn ,but this figure would have been used in a teaching enviroment and would have belonged to the medicine man or shamen at the time and been a prized posesesion
johnny l, luton england
25/10/2014 02:15
0
4
Reminds me of (Steven Spielberg's (ET) in the best possible way of course. I like him, the "Idol Code Man".
jojnjo, Dublin
25/10/2014 01:31
1
0
Wonderful discovery, this is Paleo-Sanskrit writing that was deciphered decades ago by the late epigrapher K. Schildmann and has been republished for the web here with a new free book of translations, lexicon, etc.-
http://www.human-resonance.org/sanskrit.html
Alexander Putney, La Mana, Ecuador
24/10/2014 23:03
4
6
Wonderful discovery, this is Paleo-Sanskrit writing that was deciphered decades ago by the late epigrapher K. Schildmann and has been republished for the web here with a new free book of translations, lexicon, etc.-
http://www.human-resonance.org/sanskrit.html
Alexander Putney, La Mana, Ecuador
24/10/2014 22:38
2
4
My daughter agrees with Steve, first totem! I think it's just a decorative piece of old wooden sculpture! Thanks for sharing!

Denise, USA
24/10/2014 22:27
4
3

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