A record-breakingly large and ancient structure made of mammoth bones was found in a Stone Age encampment near Voronezh. The bone "hut" can shed light on how ancient people experienced the ice age. About this, in a scientific article, reports Antiquity journal.
Archaeologists have repeatedly found circular structures made of mammoth bones at Paleolithic sites in Eastern Europe. Near Voronezh, at the Kostenki site of the Stone Age, they were discovered back in the 1950-1960s. However, the circular "hut" found at the Kostenki 11 site stands out from all the other finds. It has a record size: the structure reaches 12.5 meters across; it is composed of bones of at least 60 mammoths. In addition, radioisotope dating has shown that the age of the structure is estimated at 20 thousand years. So far it is the oldest structure found in the region.
Scientists suggest that the "hut" could have served as both a home and a place to perform rituals. For example, it could have been a temple to mammoths, who played an important role in the lives of people of that time. In favor of this hypothesis is the absence of traces of the roof over the "hut". In addition, some of the bones of which the "hut" was built were not thoroughly cleaned - they had to rot and exude an unpleasant odor. This also indicates that the building was unlikely to have been used for permanent residence.
Inside the building, researchers found stone tools, traces of coal, charred bones and plants. Probably, the forests in the vicinity of Kostenki were preserved even at the peak of the ice age, and their wood was used by people to maintain fire. Scientists suggest that a structure made of massive bones could also serve as a refuge or storage in especially cold times.
“Most of the other sites in Europe at the same geographical latitudes had been abandoned by people by this time. But the inhabitants of this area were able to adapt, find food, water and shelter during the ice age,” said one of the study participants, Alexander Pryor.
We woud like to that the structure is surrounded by pits, the purpose of which also remains a mystery. Researchers believe that they could have been used to store supplies or to dump garbage.