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14 November 2000
Rock carvings found by schoolchildren in Russia

A group of children, led by local geologist Mikhail Karchevsky on an archaeological expedition over the summer, may have found evidence of a 4,000-year-old civilization that occupied three islands in the Vuoksa River region of the Leningrad region (Russia). According to Karchevsky, a series of rock carvings and paintings were discovered at the foot of some cliffs on one of the islands as the expedition worked for two months to scrape away moss and dirt. More evidence of an ancient civilization, said Karchevsky, is an 8,000-year-old staircase - apparently man-made - found on a separate island from the paintings and sculptures. But according to Olga Smirnova, an archaeological expert at the Hermitage Museum, the staircase is more likely to have been constructed by Finnish tribes in the 12th century. "If Karchevsky finds a petroglyphics expert who is able to confirm these findings, then we may have to start speaking about an unknown culture that existed here at those times," Smirnova said.
     What Karchevsky and his pupils discovered when they scraped off the moss and brushed down the rocks was a series of paintings that resembled a fish, a dog and a prehistoric sign of the sun. Under the debris on another rock, Karchevsky said, they discovered several sculptures that were as big as 5 meters. "One of those sculptures looked like the huge head of some kind of monster with deeply carved eyes and a nose that has apparently fallen off," said Karchevsky. "The other two seemed to be the smooth heads of two snakes with small eyes," he said. The Leningrad region, Karelia and Scandinavia were all densely settled by tribes who built sculptures and painted petroglyphs throughout the region. "The thing is that the Vuoksa region resembles Onega Lake in Karelia, where many petroglyphs as old as 4,000 years have been found," said Karchevsky.
     Indeed, there were many doubters among scientists interviewed in relation to the find. Andrei Mazurkevich, one of the members of the Hermitage's Eastern Europe and Siberia archaeology department who saw a picture of the staircase, said that there was only a 20 percent chance the sculptures were made by man. "You know that sometimes nature can create such things that we can only wonder how they can be possible," he said, adding that other expeditions have revealed similar discoveries that eventually proved disappointing.

Source: The Moscow Times (8 November 2000)

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