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23 October 2014
Massive prehistoric settlement unearthed in Ukraine

A temple dating back about 6,000 years has been discovered within a massive prehistoric settlement in Ukraine. The temple is about 60 by 20 meters (197 by 66 feet) in size: it was a "two-story building made of wood and clay surrounded by a galleried courtyard," the upper floor divided into five rooms, write archaeologists Nataliya Burdo and Mykhailo Videiko in a copy of a presentation they gave recently at the European Association of Archaeologists' annual meeting in Istanbul, Turkey.
     Inside the temple, archaeologists found the remains of eight clay platforms, which may have been used as altars, the finds suggested. A platform on the upper floor contains "numerous burnt bones of lamb, associated with sacrifice," write Burdo and Videiko, of the Institute of Archaeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. The floors and walls of all five rooms on the upper floor were "decorated by red paint, which created [a] ceremonial atmosphere." The ground floor contains seven additional platforms and a courtyard riddled with animal bones and pottery fragments, the researchers found.
     The temple, referred to as belonging to the "Trypillian" culture, was first detected in 2009 and is located in a prehistoric settlement near modern-day Nebelivka. Recent research using geophysical survey indicates the prehistoric settlement is 238 hectares (588 acres) - it contained more than 1,200 buildings and nearly 50 streets.  
     Fragments of figurines, some of which look similar to humans, were also found at the temple. Like findings at other Trypillian sites, some of the figurines have noses that look like beaks and eyes that are dissimilar, one being slightly larger than the other. Ornaments made of bone and gold were also discovered at the temple. The gold ornaments are less than an inch in size and may have been worn on the hair, researchers say.
     The newly discovered prehistoric temple is similar to temples from the fifth to fourth millennia BCE that were built in ancient Middle East cities, such as those in Anatolia and Mesopotamia, Burdo and Videiko note.
     Archaeologists found that when this prehistoric settlement was abandoned, its structures, including the newly discovered temple, were burnt down, something that commonly occurred at other Trypillian culture sites.

Edited from LiveScience (20 October 2013)

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