Shigir (Russie) : Beaver's teeth 'used to carve the oldest wooden statue in the world'
Dating back 11,000 years - with a coded message left by ancient man from the Mesolithic Age - the Shigir Idol is almost three times as old as the Egyptian pyramids.
Two years ago German scientists dated the Idol as being 11,000 years old. Picture: The Siberian Times
New scientific findings suggest that images and hieroglyphics on the wooden statue were carved with the jaw of a beaver, its teeth intact.
Originally dug out of a peat bog by gold miners in the Ural Mountains in 1890, the remarkable seven-faced Idol is now on display in a glass sarcophagus in a museum in Yekaterinburg.
Two years ago German scientists dated the Idol as being 11,000 years old.
At a conference involving international experts held in the city this week, Professor Mikhail Zhilin said the wooden statue, originally 5.3 metres tall, was made of larch, with the basement and head carved using silicon faceted tools.
'The surface was polished with a fine-grained abrasive, after which the ornament was carved with a chisel,' said the expert.
'At least three were used, and they had different blade widths.
The faces were 'the last to be carved because apart from chisels, some very interesting tools - made of halves of beaver lower jaws - were used'.
He said: 'Beavers are created to carve trees. If you sharpen a beaver's cutter teeth, you will get an excellent tool that is very convenient for carving concave surfaces.'
The professor has found such a 'tool' made from beaver jaw at another archeological site - Beregovaya 2, dating to the same period.
Studying the Idol, he believed the tool is consistent with its markings, 'for example when making holes more circular', said Svetlana Panina, head of the archaeology department at Sverdlovsk Regional Local History Museum.
The idol was put on a stone basement, not dug in the ground, said Zhilin.
It stood like this for around 50 years before falling into a pond, and was later covered in turf.
The peat preserved it as if in a time capsule.
Zhilin, leading researcher of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Archeology, has spoken previously of his 'feeling of awe' when studying the Idol, more than twice as old as the Stonehenge monuments in England.
'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. 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.'
Only one of the seven faces is three dimensional.
While the messages remain 'an utter mystery to modern man', it was clear that its creators 'lived in total harmony with the world, had advanced intellectual development, and a complicated spiritual world', he said.