Issue 1 (58)

Year 2018 Number 1(58)
Pages 8-19 Type scientific article
UDC 903.26 (470.5)”633 BBK 63.442.12(235.55)
Authors Savchenko Svetlana N.
Zhilin Mikhail G.
Terberger Tomas
Heussner Karl-Uwe
Summary The Great Shigir Idol discovered in 1890 in the course of a gold mining operation at the Shigir peat bog is the oldest known monumental wooden sculpture. In 2014 a team of archaeologists and scientists from Russia and Germany have undertaken a comprehensive study of idol. The original sculpture was 5.3 m high, the height of the surviving part was 3.4 meters. All in all (together with the images from the lost part) eight personages were represented on the Great Shigir Idol ― the upper figure with the three-dimensional head, three flat images on the face side, and four flat images on the back side of the body. It was established that the idol was made from a freshly cut tree trunk with the help of polished stone adzes and chisels. The team identified and measured 137 tree rings. The average annual growth rate was significantly slower than today which indicated the severe climatic conditions at the time. The sculpture was initially positioned vertically, probably on a stone foundation, and than it fell into the lake and sank in its shallow part at the time of peat formation, some of which was preserved in the ancient cracks. According to the AMS results together with the other available data the age of the idol was about 9,600–9,000 cal y. a., which corresponded to the beginning of the Mesolithic. The unique artifact was synchronous with the other similar striking finds from the South-East Anatolia. The items from those regions demonstrated that the spiritual world and the art of the hunters-gatherers of the early Holocene were a lot richer and more complex than it was believed earlier.
Keywords Great Shigir idol, Mesolithic, Zauralye, Shigir peat bog, primitive art, spiritual world

Abramova Z. A. L’art paléolithique d’Europe orientale et de Sibérie [Paleolithic art from Eastern Europe and Siberia]. Grenoble: Jérôme Millon, 1995, 367 p. (in French).

Bers E. M. [Archaeological map of Sverdlovsk and its surroundings]. Materialy i issledovaniya po arkheologii [Materials and research on archaeology]. Moscow: AN SSSR Publ., 1951, no. 21, vol. 2, pp. 182–243. (in Russ.).

Chairkina N. M. [Anthropo- and zoomorphic images of the Eneolithic complexes of the Middle Transural Region]. Voprosy arkheologii Urala [Questions of archaeology Ural]. Ekaterinburg: UrGU Publ., 1998, iss. 23, pp. 81–104. (in Russ.).

Chairkina N. M. [Big Shigir Idol]. Ural’skij istoriceski vestnik [Ural Historical Journal], 2013, no. 4 (41), pp. 100–110. (in Russ.).

Chairkina N. M. [Mysteries of peatlands]. Kultovye pamyatniki gorno-lesnogo Urala [Cult monuments of the mountain-forest Urals]. Ekaterinburg: UrO RAN Publ., 2004, pp. 109–143. (in Russ.).

Dietrich O., Heun M., Notroff J., Schmidt K., Zarnkow M. The role of cult and feasting in the emergence of Neolithic communities. New evidence from Göbekli Tepe, south-eastern Turkey. Antiquity, 2012, no. 86, pp. 674–695. (in English).

Dmitriev P. A. [Shigir culture on the Eastern slope of the Urals]. Materialy i issledovaniya po arkheologii [Materials and research on archaeology]. Moscow: AN SSSR Publ., 1951, no. 21, vol. 2, pp. 7–93. (in Russ.).

Eding D. N. [Idols of Gorbunovsky peat bog]. Sovetskaya arkheologiya [Soviet Archaeology], 1937, no. 4, pp. 133–146. (in Russ.).

Fedorova N. V. [Images on Metal Ware: The Graphic Art of Northwestern Siberia and the Cis-Urals]. Arkheologiya, etnografiya i antropologiya Yevrazii [Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia], 2014, no. 1 (57), pp. 90–99. (in Russ.).

Ghemiş C., Clottes J., Gély B., Prud’homme F. An exceptional archaeological discovery: The “Art Gallery” in Coliboaia Cave, Apuseni Mountains, Romania. Acta Archaeologica Carpathica, 2011, vol. 46, pp. 5–18. (in English).

Hansen S. [Pictures of the man of the Stone Age]. Archäologie in Eurasien [Archaeology in Eurasia], 2007, vol. 20, pp. 205. (in German).

Hansen S. Neolithic figurines in Anatolia. The Neolithic in Turkey, 2014, vol. 6, pp. 265–292. (in English).

Kabacinski J., Hartz S., Terberger T. Elks in the Early Stone Age Art of the Northern Lowland. Prähistorische Zeitschrift [Historical magazine], 2011, vol. 86, pp. 151–164. (in English).

Khotinskiy N. A. Golotsen Severnoy Evrazii [Holocene of Northern Eurasia]. Moscow: Nauka Publ., 1977, 200 p. (in Russ.).

Koksharov S. F. [Experience in the reconstruction of some mythological representations of the Kondinsk population of the Eneolithic period]. Materialy po izobrazitelnoy deyatelnosti drevnego naseleniya Urala [Materials on the depictive activities of the ancient population of the Urals]. Sverdlovsk: UrO AN SSSR Publ., 1990, pp. 4–28. (in Russ.).

Moshinskaya V. I. Drevnyaya skulptura Urala i Zapadnoy Sibiri [Ancient sculpture of the Urals and Western Siberia]. Moscow: Nauka Publ., 1976, 132 p. (in Russ.).

Oshibkina S. V. Iskusstvo epokhi mezolita (po materialam kultury verete) [The art of the Mesolithic Age (based on the culture of the verete)]. Moscow: IA RAN Publ., 2017, 140 p. (in Russ.).

Petrin V. T. Paleoliticheskoe svyatilishche v Ignatievskoy peshchere na Yuzhnom Urale [Paleolithic sanctuary in Ignatievskaya cave in the Southern Urals]. Novosibirsk: Nauka Publ., 1992, 208 p. (in Russ.).

Petrin V. T., Usacheva I. V. [Anthropomorphic sculpture of the Neolithic Age from the South Urals]. Obrazy i sakralnoe prostranstvo drevnikh epoch [Images and sacred space of Ancient ages]. Ekaterinburg: AKVAPRESS Publ., 2003, pp. 83–85. (in Russ.).

Płonka T. The portable art of Mesolithic Europe. Wroclaw: Uniwersytetu Wroclawskiego, 2003, 611 p. (in English).

Savchenko S. N. [The history of the formation of the collection of Shigir antiquities in the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum of Local History]. 120 let arkheologii vostochnogo sklona Urala. Pervye chteniya pamyati V. F. Geninga [120 years of archaeology of the Eastern slope of the Urals. The first reading of the memory of V. F. Gening]. Ekaterinburg: UrGU Publ., 1999, part 1, pp. 46–53. (in Russ.).

Savchenko S. N., Zhilin M. G. [About new details of images of the Great Shigir idol]. IV Bersovskie chteniya [The 4th Bersov Readings]. Ekaterinburg: AKVA-PRESS Publ., 2004, pp. 130–135. (in Russ.).

Savchenko S. N., Zhilin M. G. [Bone industry of Mesolithic sites of Gorbunovsky peat bog]. Trudy IV (XX) Vserossiyskogo arkheologicheskogo sezda [Proceedings of the 4th (20th) All-Russian Archaeological Congress]. Kazan: Otechestvo Publ., 2014, vol. 1, pp. 342–346. (in Russ.).

Savchenko S., Lillie M., Zhilin M., Budd C. New AMS Dating of Bone and Antler Weapons from the Shigir Collections Housed in the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum, Urals, Russia. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 2015, vol. 81, pp. 265–281. (in English).

Ščelinskij V. E., Širokov V. N. Hohlenmalerei in Ural. Kapova und Ignatievka: die altsteinzeitlichen Bilderhöhlen im Sudlichen Ural [Hollow painting in Urals. Kapova and Ignatievka: the Palaeolithic picture caves in the Southern Urals]. Sigmaringen: Jan Thorbecke Verlag, 1999, 170 p. (in German).

Serikov Yu. B. Paleolit i mezolit Srednego Zauralya [Paleolithic and Mesolithic of the Middle Transural Region]. Nizhniy Tagil: NTGSPA, 2000, 430 p. (in Russ.).

Studzitskaya S. V. [Images of man in the art of the Ural-West Siberian region (the Bronze Age)]. Antropomorfnye izobrazheniya. Pervobytnoe iskusstvo [Anthropomorphic images. Primitive art]. Novosibirsk: Nauka Publ., 1987, pp. 73–88. (in Russ.).

Veil S., Terberger Ò. [Art and Environment in Transition]. Eiszeitkunst, Kunst und Kultur. Große Landesausstellung Stuttgart 2009 [Ice Age Art, Art and Culture. Grand State Exhibition Stuttgart 2009]. Ostfildern: Thorbecke, 2009, pp. 347–351. (in German).

Zaretskaya N. E., Panova N. K., Zhilin M. G., Antipina T. G., Uspenskaya O. N., Savchenko S. N. [Geochronology, stratigraphy, and evolution of Middle Uralian peatlands during the Holocene (exemplified by the Shigir and Gorbunovo peat bogs)]. Stratigrafiya. Geologicheskaya korrelyatsiya [Stratigraphy and geological correlation], 2014, vol. 22, no. 6, pp. 84–108. (in Russ.).

Zhilin M. G. Kostyanaya industriya mezolita Vostochnoy Yevropy [Bone industry of Mesolithic in Eastern Europe]. Moscow: URSS Publ., 2001, 328 p. (in Russ.).

Zhilin M. G., Kosinskaya L. L., Savchenko S. N. [Slaughtering tools made of stone in the Mesolithic of the Middle Trans-Urals (based on the sites of the Gorbunovsky peat bog)]. Stratum plus [Stratum plus], 2017, no. 1, pp. 271–290. (in Russ.).

Zhilin M. G., Savchenko S. N. [Multilayered Mesolithic sites of Gorbunovsky peat bog]. Trudy IV (XX) Vserossiyskogo arkheologicheskogo sezda [Proceedings of the 4th (20th) All-Russian Archaeological Congress]. Kazan: Otechestvo Publ., 2014, vol. 1, pp. 255–259. (in Russ.).

Zhilin M. G., Savchenko S. N. [The dynamics of the natural environment and the use of the coastal section of the multi-layer site Beregovaya II in the Trans-Urals]. Prirodnaya sreda i modeli adaptatsii ozernykh poseleniy v mezolite i neolite lesnoy zony Vostochnoy Evropy [The natural environment and models of adaptation of lake settlements in the Mesolithic and Neolithic forest zone of Eastern Europe]. Saint Petersburg: IIMK RAN Publ., 2014, pp. 20–24. (in Russ.).

Zhilin M. Mesolithic Zoomorphic Perforated Antler Staff Heads from Central Russia and Eastern Urals: Ceremonial Weapons or Shaman’s Staves? Ancient and Modern Bone Artefacts from America to Russia Cultural, technological and functional signature. BAR. International Series. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2010, no. 2136, pp. 135–140. (in English).

Zykov A. P., Fedorova N. V. Kholmogorskiy klad: kollektsiya drevnostey III–IV vekov iz sobraniya Surgutskogo khudozhestvennogo muzeya [Kholmogory treasure: Collection of antiquities of the 3th–4th centuries from the collection of the Surgut Art Museum]. Ekaterinburg: Sokrat Publ., 2001, 176 p. (in Russ.).

Download in PDF