PHOTOS: A very natural wooden snake from more than 3,900 years ago found in Finland

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A wooden figurine representing a snake was discovered at the Jarvensuo 1 archaeological site in southwestern Finland. The discovery is described in an article published this Tuesday in Antiquity magazine.

The artifact, 53.5 centimeters long and 2.5-3 centimeters wide, was carved from a single piece of wood whose species has not yet been identified. Radiocarbon analysis places the figurine’s creation around 3,908 years ago, when northeastern Europe was dominated by Neolithic cultures.

The figure lacks ornamentation and is “very natural,” the scientists note. As for the prototypes of the carving, it resembles a collared snake or a common European viper. In comments cited According to a statement from the University of Turku, one of the study’s authors, Satu Koivisto, indicated that the figure resembles a reptile that “crawls or swims to escape, surprised.”

The figure was found at a depth of a little less than a meter on what was once the shore of a lake. “Depending on the composition of the discovery deposit, the sculpture was deliberately lost, abandoned or placed in dense coastal vegetation,” Koivisto said.

Although the functions of the artifact are unknown, the researchers believe that it was probably linked to ritual activities. In particular, they cite examples of figures and images of snakes from other Neolithic sites in Northern Europe and the Urals. “Curiously, in some places a human figure appears to be holding a snake in its hand and, therefore, can represent a carved snake figure or a staff,” they say.

The snake is not the first discovery from Jarvensuo 1, which has been excavated since the 1950s. Previously, a wooden pallet unearthed at the site was dated more than 4,200 years ago.

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