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On the Date of the Great Shigir Idol

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The Great Shigir Idol is the largest anthropomorphic wooden sculpture in the world, a unique work of Stone Age art, and a valuable source for reconstructing the material culture and worldview of the ancient population of Northern Eurasia. Although study of it began more than 100 years ago, a number of issues, such as the place of discovery, context, date, methods of exhibition, etc., remain controversial. This article analyses archival documents relevant to the location and time of discovery of the Great Shigir Idol, and on the accompanying finds. The results of a recent comprehensive study conducted by Russian and German archaeologists and scientists in 2014 are outlined. The focus is on the analysis of AMS radiocarbon dates, spanning a period from the Late Pleistocene (~10,500 cal BC) to the Late Mesolithic/Early Neolithic (~6000 cal BC). These dates show a considerable range of variation, and they disagree with those derived from the conventional radiocarbon dating in 1997. Paleogeographic and archaeological data from the Trans-Urals do not support the early (9600–9000 cal BC) estimates of the time of the idol’s creation, but rather correspond to later ones, derived from the AMS 14C analysis conducted in 2014. Therefore, it is necessary to continue the study of Mesolithic sites and paleoclimate of the Urals, determine the nature of primary peat formation at the Ural peatlands, and assess their age and that of the microremains of peat in early cracks in the idol, etc.

About the Author

N. M. Chairkina
Institute of History and Archaeology, Ural Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences
Russian Federation

S. Kovalevskoi 16, Yekaterinburg, 620108, Russia


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For citations:

Chairkina N.M. On the Date of the Great Shigir Idol. Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia. 2021;49(2):32-42.

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ISSN 1563-0110 (Print)