A mysterious wooden idol found in a Russian peat bog has been dated to 11,000 years ago - and contains a code no one can decipher.
The Shigir Idol is twice as old as the Pyramids and Stonehenge - and is by far the oldest wooden structure in the world.
Even more mysteriously, it is covered in what experts describe as ‘encrypted code’ - a message from a lost civilisation.
Professor Mikhail Zhilin of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Archeology said: 'The ornament is covered with nothing but encrypted information. People were passing on knowledge with the help of the Idol.'
Russian experts think that the strange carvings may contain a belief system, the equivalent of the Bible’s Genesis.
The statue had been dated as being 9,500 years old, after its discovery in a peat bog 125 years ago.
But new research in Mannheim, Germany used Accelerated Mass Spectrometry n small fragments of the sculpture, and found it is at least 11,000 years old.
That means the sculpture dates from the very beginning of the Holocene epoch - the era when man rose to dominate the world.