When scientists first tried in 1997 to date the famous Shigir Idol wooden sculpture —originally found in a Siberian peat bog in 1890—radiocarbon dating suggested the art was so old the findings were widely disputed. Now, armed with better tech, scientists turned to one of the world's most advanced accelerated mass spectrometry labs in Germany to put the issue to rest, and are announcing that Shigir Idol is indeed ancient—in fact, at 11,000 years of age it's actually 1,500 years older than first thought, reports the Siberian Times. Not only is it the oldest known wooden sculpture, but it's more than twice as old as the Great Pyramid of Giza, three times as old as the ancient city of Babylon, and five times as old as the ruins of Al Khazneh in the ancient city of Petra, reports the Huffington Post.
Microbes that eat away at organic matter don't like bogs, reports Atlas Obscura, which makes them particularly good at preservation. Thus the 9-foot Shigir Idol (which stood 17 feet tall before parts were pilfered during 20th century political turmoil) was preserved "as if in a time capsule" 11 millennia after it was cut from a 157-year-old larch tree. The resulting wooden figure is covered with "encrypted" shapes whose message remains "an utter mystery to modern man," one Russian academic has said. "We study the Idol with a feeling of awe. This is a masterpiece, carrying gigantic emotional value and force, a unique sculpture; there is nothing else in the world like this." He added that the creators "lived in total harmony with the world, had advanced intellectual development, and a complicated spiritual world." (See why this ancient sculpture has stumped scientists.)