Perfectly Preserved Mammoth Bone Huts, Could Be Up To 25,000 Years Old

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Mammoth bone huts that are still in perfect shape; they could be up to 25,000 years old.

Some of the most interesting mammoth bone huts were found in Mezhyrich, a town in central Ukraine. In 1965, a farmer was digging to make more room in his cellar when he found the lower jawbone of a mammoth. Some more digging showed that there were 4 ancient huts made of 149 mammoth bones. It’s possible that these huts, which are up to 25,000 years old, are the oldest ever built with a dome.

These mammoth bone huts could be up to 25,000 years old

Photo: NANDARO/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/CC BY-SA 3.0

The dates of these houses range from 23,000 BCE to 12,000 BCE. They are thought to be some of the oldest homes ever built by prehistoric people, most likely the Cro-Magnons.

“They are made up of several hundred bones and tusks that are arranged in a rough circle that is between 6 and 10 m (20 and 33 ft) across.” A fire is usually found near the middle of the old house, and stone tools and other junk are spread out inside and outside the building. Near the homes, big holes have been found that are full of stone tools, bone pieces, and ash.

A lot of work must have gone into putting these buildings together. Large mammoth bones are very heavy, even when they are dry. It has been suggested that the bones and tusks came from hunting trips where whole groups of adult mammoths and their young were killed. It’s more possible that they were found in natural piles of bones, like at the bottom of streams or in gullies close to the sites. The mammoth-bone homes, which were probably covered with animal skins, were probably built to protect people from the harsh cold and strong winds. Because of the structures’ size and look, some archaeologists have said that they may also have religious or social meanings. People have called them the first examples of “monumental architecture” and said that they show how social complexity and rank differences grew during the last few thousand years of the Ice Age. (1995), 100 Great Archaeological Discoveries (Paul G. Bahn, ed., pp. 54–55).

Artist rendition of dwelling in Mezhirich, Ukraine, made of mammoth bones. Source: Dolní Věstonice Museum

“They are made up of several hundred bones and tusks arranged in a rough circle that is 6 to 10 m across.”

Photo: Momotarou2012/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/CC BY-SA 3.0
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