Archaeologists unearth 6000-year-old temple, with human figurines and sacrificial altars, in Ukraine


Archaeologists have unearthed a 6000-year-old temple, possessing human-like statuettes and burnt animal remains, at the site of a huge prehistoric settlement in Ukraine. Situated near modern-day Nebelivka, the temple, together with the artifacts found inside it, provide valuable information regarding the ancient Trypillian culture.

The temple was excavated in 2009, but it was only recently that an extensive geographical survey was undertaken. Archaeological studies have shown that the site, encompassing an area of 238 hectares(588 acres), was home to an ancient mega-settlement of as many as 17,000 people. Complete with 1,200 buildings and 50 streets, the settlement is similar to the ones found in other parts of Ukraine and Eastern Europe and, is believed to have belonged to the Neolithic-Eneolithic Trypillian culture.

One major characteristic of these people was the destruction  of abandoned settlements, a practice that explains the presence of numerous burnt artefacts inside the temple. Covering an area of 60 meters by 20 meters(197 feet by 66 feet), the temple was a “two-story building made of wood and clay surrounded by a galleried courtyard,” note archaeologists Nataliya Burdo and Mykhailo Videiko in a report recently presented at the annual meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists in Istanbul.


The top floor of the temple housed five separate rooms. Furthermore, the survey has revealed the remnants of eight clay platforms, that must have served as altars. The team of archaeologists working at the site found “numerous burnt bones of lamb, associated with sacrifice” in a platform on the upper floor. Several other animal bones and pottery remains were retrieved from the seven platforms on the ground floor and also from the surrounding courtyard.


All the walls and floors of the five rooms on the temple‘s top floor were “decorated by red paint, which created [a] ceremonial atmosphere”. Among the artifacts found inside the temple are fragments of small human-like statuettes, similar to the ones recovered from other Trypillian sites. The figurines are uniquely shaped, with sharp noses akin to beaks and eyes that are slightly disproportionate. Archaeologists also found inch-long pieces of hair accessories, made of gold and bones.

A large clay pot and a number of smaller containers were discovered in one of the south-facing rooms on the temple’s top floor. Additionally, the researchers came across a collection of circular clay tokens, that were mostly likely used for counting during games.

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Source and Image Credits: Live Science

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