Based on extensive analysis, Terberger’s team now estimates that the object was likely crafted about 12,500 years ago, at the end of the Last Ice Age. Its ancient creators carved the work from a single larch tree with 159 growth rings, the authors write in the study.
“The idol was carved during an era of great climate change, when early forests were spreading across a warmer late glacial to postglacial Eurasia,” Terberger tells Franz Lidz of the New York Times. “The landscape changed, and the art—figurative designs and naturalistic animals painted in caves and carved in rock—did, too, perhaps as a way to help people come to grips with the challenging environments they encountered.”
According to Sarah Cascone of Artnet News, the new findings indicate that the rare artwork predates Stonehenge, which was created around 5,000 years ago, by more than 7,000 years. It’s also twice as old as the Egyptian pyramids, which date to roughly 4,500 years ago.
Russia’s Ural mountain range
How far back?
2020 | Present