The Shigir Idol is the world's oldest known wooden statue. Built in 9,000 BC, it bears a secret code which nobody has ever been able to decipher. Even more startling is that it was written 7,000 years before writing was thought to have begun.
Shigir Idol
© Yekaterinburg History MuseumBig Shigir Idol.
The Shigir Idol was found in a peat bog in Kirovgrad, Siberia in 1890, but has always remained something of a mystery. Earlier radiocarbon analysis suggested it was 9,500 years old, but now new technology has dated it as 1,500 older. German scientists described the results as "sensational".

The Mail Online reports that;

"Research was conducted in Mannheim, Germany, at one of the world's most advanced laboratories using Accelerated Mass Spectrometry, on seven minuscule wooden samples."

"The results were astonishing, as samples from inside parts of the idol showed its age as 11,000 calendar years, to the very beginning of the Holocene epoch."

Built at the end of the last Ice Age, it is some 5,000 years older than the pyramids and 6,500 years older than Stonehenge.

The Siberian Times quoted a spokesperson for the Sverdlovsk Regional History Museum, where it is on display, who said.

"This confirms that hunters and fishermen from Urals created works of art as developed and as monumental as ancient farmers of the Middle East".

The statute has been perfectly preserved by the peat bog and is an impressive piece of art and workmanship. It stands 9ft (2.8 metres) in height, but it was originally 17ft (5.3 metres) tall, until parts of it were lost in Russia's recent political turmoil.
Shigir Idol_1
© Siberian TimesThe oldest wooden statue in the world.
The writing, which is found all over the statue, has baffled experts. It is an entirely unknown system of writing and maybe the oldest in the world. It is clearly the work of quite an advanced civilization, but who they actually were also remains something of a mystery.

Professor Mikhail Zhilin, leading researcher of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Archaeology, said;

"The men - or man - who created the Idol lived in total harmony with the world, had advanced intellectual development, and a complicated spiritual world."

The website Ancient Origins says that the idol's face has "high cheekbones and straight nose may reflect what the creators looked like at the time."

Until now, the earliest forms of writing have conventionally been attributed to the Sumerians and Egyptians starting between 3400 - 3200 BC, although the Dispilio tablet found in 2013 in Northern Greece has been estimated to be 5,000 years old.

Experts have been unable to translate the writing on the Shigir Idol, describing it as a sort of secret code, which they believe carries information on the "creation of the world".
Shigir Idol_2
© Siberian TimesThe Idol is more than 6,000 years older than the UK's Stonehenge.
"The ornament is covered with nothing but encrypted information. People were passing on knowledge with the help of the Idol," said Professor Zhilin.

The Siberian Times says "the marks could have multiple meanings for the ancient statue-makers who gave the Idol seven faces, only one of which is three-dimensional."
Shigir Idol_3
© Siberian TimesThis is a masterpiece, carrying gigantic emotional value and force, a unique sculpture.
They seem to depict ancient spirits which the people worshiped.

"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." explained the Professor.

A problem for the translators is the polysemy symbolism of the hieroglyphics, which means they may have multiple related meanings.

Professor Zhilin said the messages remain "an utter mystery to modern man",

"This is a masterpiece, carrying gigantic emotional value and force," he said.

"It is a unique sculpture, there is nothing else in the world like this."