A mammoth hut was found near Voronezh
Mar 19, 2020

A mammoth hut was found near Voronezh

An ancient hut made of mammoth bones was found near Voronezh.25 thousand years ago, ancient people built a fire and probably dried meat in it. The exact purpose of the structure remains unknown. An ancient hut made of mammoth bones was found near Voronezh by an international group of archaeologists.

The circular structure, about 25 thousand years old and about 12 m in diameter, is the oldest and largest of its kind. An article about the find is being prepared for publication in the journal Antiquity, and the work is briefly described in a press release from the University of Exeter. Kostenki is a small village in the Voronezh region. It is known to paleontologists all over the world as the Paleolithic sites of ancient hunters and gatherers. In total, more than 60 sites with an age of 37-18 thousand years have been opened on the territory of kostenok. Numerous items of jewelry and works of art were found: small sculptures of animals and world-famous female figurines — the so-called "Paleolithic Venus". The first huts made of mammoth bones were found by scientists in the 1950s and 1960s. It was believed that these were residential properties that helped their owners survive the cold. However, their age was about 22 thousand years, and their size was smaller. "It is obvious that a lot of time and effort was spent on the construction of this structure. It was probably important to the people who built it for some reason," says Alexander Pryor, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter in the UK. In total, the researchers found 51 lower mammoth jaws and 64 skull fragments. Inside the hut, there are traces of fire and remnants of food, including vegetables. Outside the structure there are several pits where mammoth bones were left. The researchers suggest that the hut was used for processing and storage of food. But the object could also have a ritual purpose, they believe. "The size of the structure makes it exceptional of its kind, and it would take a long time to build," explains Marjolein Bosch, an archaeologist at the University of Cambridge. — This means that it may have been a landmark, a meeting place, a place of ceremonial significance, or a place to go if shelter was needed." "I can't imagine how the roof was made here," Pryor admits. The smaller huts differ from the new find in their cooking hearths, and there are also remains of deer, horses, and foxes on their territory — the inhabitants ate the meat of those animals that they could catch. But in the new hut there are no remains of other animals — only the bones of mammoths. Therefore, researchers believe that the structure is unlikely to be intended for living in it. In addition, this is the first structure in which large pieces of charcoal were found. This shows that there were trees near the Parking lot and residents used them to build fires. The width of the annual rings in the fragments of coal is small — this indicates that the conditions were not too favorable for the trees. If people did not live in this structure, why did they then build fires, researchers ask. "Fire in the past was a tool, just like stone or bone tools," says Bosch. The fire gave warmth and light, allowed to cook food, to dry-cured meat to make glue guns. Here the fire was lit inside the structure, and it is intuitively possible to assume that this was done for lighting. If the assumption that the hut was used for storing food is correct, it may also have been used for drying meat." To test this theory, you will need to examine the floor of the hut — perhaps there are traces of fat, indicating that the meat was dried over the flames. In total, researchers found the remains of more than 60 mammoths in the hut and can not yet say exactly where they came from. Perhaps the locals hunted them, or dragged their bodies here, or both. "There must be something in the location of this place that led to the fact that here again and again passed herds of mammoths, which were killed by local residents or they died themselves, for example, when crossing the river,-emphasizes Pat Shipman, one of the authors of the work. — I can't imagine that these people could kill 60 mammoths at once, because proboscis are smart and behave carefully if they kill members of their herd, even with modern automatic weapons." Further studies of the bones will reveal more about where they came from. Some of them were located in the same way as in the skeleton-apparently, parts of the body of mammoths with soft tissues were brought to the hut. No matter how the mammoths got to the site, their presence was crucial for the hunter-gatherer tribes living in the area, says Lyudmila Lakovleva of the French National center for scientific research. There is some evidence that there were previously fresh water sources in this area that did not freeze all year round. They could probably attract both mammoths and humans. Although the new discovery and the General site in Kostenki raise many new questions about the life of ancient people, they also provide answers. "This project gives us a real insight into how our ancestors adapted to climate change, to the harshest parts of the last ice age, and adapted to using the materials that were around them. This is a story of survival in the face of adversity, " Pryor concludes.

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