A 4000-year-old wooden snake figurine discovered at the Finnish Neolithic site of Järvensuo 1

Recently, researchers have accidentally discovered a unique wooden snake figurine during archaeological excavations of a neolithic wetland site of Järvensuo 1, Fennoscandia, south-west Finland. Järvensuo 1 archeological site was first incidentally discovered in the 1950s. Recent excavations are conducted in 2020-21 almost after 35 years since the last one. 

Wooden Snake(Front), Source: Antiquity

During current excavation, a precisely carved wooden snake figurine was exposed in a horizontal position in peat overlying gyttja. It was found in waste or purposely deposited position in thick lakeshore flora. The dimensions of the single-piece snake figurine are 535mm in length and 25–30mm in thickness. Researchers are still involved in the analysis of species of wood. Artistically, the figurine matches with the grass snake (Natrix natrix) or European adder (Vipera berus) snakes. The direct radiocarbon dating of this wooden snake yielded a date of 3908±32 BP(Before Present). At this cultural location, these dates are archaeologically belonging to the Late Neolithic era. 

Artifact in archaeological context, Source: Antiquity

Snakes are associated with the culture of Northern Europe since ancient times. Snakes are sporadically also portrayed in the rock art of Northern Europe. The archaeological site of Järvensuo 1 is famous for fishing-related artifacts. According to the researchers, this wooden snake belongs to the religious sphere. Snakes were also a prominent part of ancient Finno-Ugric and Sámi cosmology.

The study was conducted by the researchers, Satu Koivisto & Antti Lahelma, of the Department of Archaeology, University of Turku, Finland, and University of Helsinki, Finland. 

For the original research article, Click on Antiquity.

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