Ukraine-based archaeologists have uncovered a 6,000-year-old temple that houses evidence of elaborate sacrificial practices. The ancient house of worship was found to include altars and burnt lamb bones as well as humanlike dolls, illuminating practices within a huge prehistoric community.
Originally unearthed in 2009, the temple sits at the center of an immense prehistoric settlement near modern-day Nebelivka and belongs to the “Trypillian” culture, a modern-day name. The village of Trypillia, where similar artifacts from the ancient culture were first discovered, inspired the site’s name.
At 197 feet by 66 feet, the structure is made of wood and clay, and was originally two stories high with a galleried courtyard; the upper floor divided into five rooms. The area is thought to have covered 288 acres based on the results of a geophysical survey, according to Live Science. That’s almost twice the size of the contemporary National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Inside the temple, archaeologists discovered the remains of eight clay platforms, which may have been used as altars, along with burnt bones of lamb, typically associated with sacrifice. There were seven additional platforms and a courtyard on the ground floor, filled with animal bones and pottery particles. Upstairs, the floors and walls of all five rooms were painted red, further creating a ceremonial atmosphere.
On top of that, humanlike figurines made out of clay were also found. The dolls have mismatched beak-like noses and eyes that are different sizes. Spiral hair ornaments made of gold and measuring less than an inch in size were found as well.
Photo Courtesy of Nataliya Burdo and Mykhailo Videiko/Institute of Archaeology NAS of Ukraine, Kyiv
Similar in size to other settlements found in the Ukraine and in various parts of Eastern Europe, the colony is said to have contained more than 50 streets and 1,200 buildings
Archaeologists believe that ancient people abandoned and burned the temple down—something that often occurred at other Trypillian culture sites.
Researchers report that the newly discovered temple is curiously similar to fifth to fourth millennial B.C. temples that were built in ancient Middle East cities, such as those in Anatolia and Mesopotamia. A 6,000-year-old temple at the ancient city of Eridu, in what is currently Iraq, also had a floor partitioned into smaller rooms, they said.
Photo Courtesy livescience.com