The Shigir idol – The oldest known wooden sculpture in the world is being exhibited in Yekaterinburg

The sculpture was discovered on January 24, 1894 at a depth of 4 meter in the peat bog of Shigir, on the eastern slope of the Middle Urals. Made during the Mesolithic period, shortly after the end of the last Ice Age. The wood it was carved from is approximately 11,500 years old.

The Shigir idol displayed in the Sverdlovsk Regional Museum of Local Lore in Yekaterinburg / Image source

It was extracted in ten parts. Professor D. I. Lobanov combined the main fragments to reconstitute a sculpture 2.8 meters high. In 1914, archaeologist Vladimir Tolmachev proposed a variant of this reconstruction by integrating the unused fragments. His reconstruction suggested that the original height of the statue was 5.3 meters.

The sculpture is carved from larch. Stone tools were used for carving the markings. The top portion is a head with a face with eyes, nose, and mouth. The body is flat and rectangular. Geometrical motifs decorate its surface, including zigzag lines and depictions of human faces and hands. The arrangement resembles a totem pole.

First reconstructions of the Idol as walking and standing upright, archeologist Vladimir Tolmachev and his drawings of the Idol, and faces of the Idol / Image source

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