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The Earliest Examples of Architecture: Perfectly Preserved Mammoth Bone Dwellings Discovered In Ukraine

Researchers have discovered mammoth bone huts in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Ukraine. These may be the first examples of human-made construction. An extraordinary archeological find in the heart of Ukraine has revealed the mysteries of ancient habitation. Archaeologists have unearthed remarkably well-preserved mammoth bone homes, shedding light on a captivating architectural era that might have originated with the earliest endeavors of ancient cultures. These discoveries raise significant concerns regarding the essential characteristics of shelter and building in the ancient world and offer insights into the creative ways our ancestors responded to their environment.

At 25,000, the mammoth bone huts in Mezhyrich, Ukraine, might be the oldest known domed architecture. In the summer of 2013, they were displayed as “Mammoth House” at the “Frozen Woolly Mammoth Yuka Exhibit” in Japan. Photo source: NANDARO/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/CC BY-SA 3.0

When a farmer in Mezhyrich, Ukraine, was building out his cellar in 1965, he found mammoth bones. Additional excavation revealed four antique homes constructed between 23,000 and 12,000 BCE out of 149 mammoth bones. Cro-Magnons often associate these structures with some of the oldest known ancient living conditions.

Ancient dwellings, with a diameter of approximately 20 to 33 feet, arrange hundreds of bones and tusks in a circle. Typical features inside and outside the building include a central hearth, scattered tools, and garbage. Vast pits nearby contain ash, bone fragments, and stone tools.

Photo Source : Dolni Vestonice Museum

Mammoth bones, which weighed hundreds of pounds, were challenging to work with even in dry conditions, and thus, building these structures took a lot of effort. The idea that the bones and tusks came from hunting journeys in which whole herds of adult mammoths and their young were killed is one scenario. A more likely scenario is that people found these mammoth bones in natural bone accumulations, perhaps beside gullies and streams.

It was observed that they were tied in animal skins; these dwellings served as shelter from bitter cold and strong winds. Impressed by the scale and look of the structures, some archaeologists believe they may have had spiritual or social significance in addition to their practical use. As early examples of “monumental architecture,” these mammoth-bone huts show an increased complexity in society and status difference towards the end of the Ice Age. 

(Paul G. Bahn (ed) 100 Great Archaeological Discoveries [1995] 54-55)

Mammoth bones that were discovered. Reconstruction using Mezhirich as a model. Display at Tokyo, Japan’s National Museum of Nature and Science Image: CC BY-SA 3.0 via Momotarou2012/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

The discovery of several fascinating objects at the archeological site has enhanced our understanding of the historic city. One of these finds is a bone with an engraved map that shows the general location. The people living in the village probably found this map to be a helpful resource.

The remnants of a “drum” made from a mammoth skull decorated with a design of red ochre dots and lines are another intriguing discovery. This work of art provides insights into the cultural activities and artistic manifestations of the people who formerly lived in the area.

In addition, the location has produced a variety of amber ornaments that illustrate the artistry and interest in the art of the ancient dwellers. Warm colors like amber probably had aesthetic or symbolic meaning in their society.

Another significant discovery is fossil shells, which provide evidence of using natural resources for practical or decorative purposes. These varied items highlight the archeological site’s richness by offering a mosaic of artifacts that give insight into the everyday activities, creative pursuits, and cultural ties of the site’s past inhabitants.

Article sources-donsmaps.com,wikipedia.org,monolithicdome.com

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