Archaeologists have recently identified two very strange looking rocks in what is now Ukraine, stones that they have determined were carved into snake heads by Stone Age residents approximately 8,300 years ago.
As Live Science reports — while it would be quite impossible today to prove exactly what the Stone Age snake heads were created for — archaeologists have suggested that they were most likely used for ritualistic purposes. As Nadiia Kotova — who is an archaeologist in the Department of the Neolithic and Bronze Age at the Institute of Archaeology National Academy of Sciences (NAS) of Ukraine — has commented, “These sculptures could have ritual purpose. They were probably used during ceremonies.”
The two carved snake heads were first uncovered back in 2016 by Kotova and her team of archaeologists. They were located while the team was busy working at the ancient site of Kamyana Mohyla I, which is located close to Terpinnya. Interestingly, the two stones were both from different time periods — and were found close to where pieces of flint and bones had been scattered on the ground. However, this ancient debris was all found to date back to the Mesolithic era.
As Kotova explained, while sandstones were in abundance at the site of Kamyana Mohyla I, “these two had quite a strange shape, so we decided to look closer.” The oldest carved snake head that was found was radiocarbon dated back to between 8,300 and 7,500 BC, and was first spied beside a very wide outdoor fireplace.
The oldest stone snake head was found to have been meticulously carved into a triangle. It was given a smooth, flat bottom and is extremely tiny — at just five inches by three inches. It was found to weigh in at just three pounds. Archaeologists have noted that “two rhombic eyes were carved on the upper surface alongside two knobs,” while “a wide, long line represents a mouth.” Unfortunately, this 8,300-year-old stone was “damaged on the ‘nose’ during excavation,” as archaeologists wrote in their new study of the artifact.
The other stone snake head was dated as well, and was found to have been created around 7,400 BC. It was also unearthed very close to another fireplace. This stone is considerably smaller than the first, and was measured at three inches by two inches. And because it weighs less than one pound, archaeologists believe that it would have fit very snugly in someone’s hand. According to Kotova, it also has a neck.
“The smaller stone has a flattened, round shape and so-called neck. There are two deep traces, probably the eyes of the creature. There is also kind of a nose.”
Fully understanding the reason these stones would have been carved is difficult, as Kotova noted, as archaeologists are still very much in the dark as to the Stone Age culture that would have fashioned them into snake heads.
“They made tools from stones, flints and bones and hunted with bows and flint arrows. It was the society of hunters and gatherers. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about their cultural traditions yet.”
The new study on the carved Stone Age snake heads that were found in Ukraine has been published in Antiquity.