A staggering specimen of Ice Age architecture has been unearthed on Russia’s forest-steppe, which is a huge, circular structure built with the bones of at least 60 woolly mammoths. However, why hunter-gatherers would construct the 40-foot diameter structure has baffled scientists.
The incredible structure is the oldest known circular mammoth-bone feature built by modern humans on the Russian Plain, according to a study published. The gnarly bone circle may have provided shelter, warmth, storage, and ritual significance to this Ice Age community, as per reports.
An incredible Ice Age structure built with the bones of over 60 #mammoths has been unearthed in Russia, but what on earth could it have been for?! asks Brian Handwerk for @SmithsonianMag https://t.co/l1OXsjrwMG pic.twitter.com/LEcmu7Jltj— EGU (@EuroGeosciences) March 17, 2020
Researchers have discovered and excavated this "mammoth house" in Russia. They have attempted to try and understand it, however, they are baffled as to why the ancient people would have built this structure back in the Ice Age.
This "mammoth house" is not only the latest discovery in Russia but also the oldest and largest, at 30 feet by 30 feet. There are approximately 70 of these structures that have been discovered in Ukraine and the west Russian Plain in the past, as per reports.
Alexander Pryor, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter, said, ''The sheer number of bones that the Paleolithic ancestors had sourced from somewhere and brought to this particular location to build this monument is really staggering.''
As many as 70 similarly shaped mammoth structures have been discovered throughout Europe, including two uncovered at the site, Kostenki, in the 1950s and ‘60s. The oldest of these sites date back 22,000 years—3,000 years earlier than the one recently found in Kostenki. They’re also significantly smaller, with most measuring less than 10 feet wide. Researchers believe they were used as modest protective dwellings during the frigid conditions of the ice age.
Animal remains, which have consistently been found alongside other mammoth constructions, were not found in the Kostenki bone circle, which suggests that it might not have been a place where people stored food or stayed for a lengthy period of time.
Some have suggested it was a site of ritual, however, Pryor is not so sure. He said, ''The ritual is embedded in human lives in all sorts of ways and the fact they might have designed a structure of this type as part of both their ritual and their sustenance activities is very reasonable.''
Paul Pettitt, an archaeologist at Durham University in England, applauded the team for the methods they used to recover ancient charcoal from the dirt. But he said, ''it could not be ruled out that the structure might have been used as a cosy home during the long winters, which could reach minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit,'' as per reports.
George Church, who is a Harvard and MIT geneticist and co-founder of CRISPR, and the head of the Harvard Woolly Mammoth Revival team, said, ''The elephants that lived in the past, knocked down trees and allowed the cold air to hit the ground and keep the cold in the winter, and helped the grass grow and reflect the sunlight in the summer. Those two combined could result in a huge cooling of the soil and a rich ecosystem,.''
Pryor, however, told the media that to build this structure, a lot of time and effort would have taken, so it was obviously important to the people that made it for some reason.
However, the biggest question remains, where did all these mammoths come from? No place else in the world have so many skeletons from the extinct animal been found in one place. Scientists are not sure if the mammoths were killed or found dead. They have to carry out more research to answer this question.