Archaeologists have discovered an ancient temple in a massive settlement in Ukraine where ritual animal sacrifices were believed to have taken place thousands of years ago.
The temple was discovered near Nebelivka, a site which dates back to 4,000 B.C. Geophysical surveys suggest that the site covers 238 hectares, which is nearly double the size of the National Mall in Washington D.C.
The ancient settlement had over 1,200 buildings and nearly 50 streets, indicating that it was likely a huge settlement at the time and home to thousands of people.
The 6,000-year-old temple measuring about 60 by 20 meters in size contained figurines that resemble humans. Remains of sacrificed animals were also found at the ancient building. Sites such as this have been found in other parts of Ukraine and Eastern Europe, and these are believed to belong to the "Trypillian" culture.
Just like the figurines from other Trypillian sites, those found in the temple in Nebelivka have noses that look like beaks. The figurines have dissimilar eyes, with one eye larger than the other.
Archaeologists have also found ornaments that were made of gold and bones. The tiny gold pendants that were discovered measured less than an inch and were likely worn on the hair. Clay tokens were also found inside the temple, which were likely used for counting and playing games in ancient times.
Nataliya Burdo and Mykhailo Videiko, both from the Institute of Archaeology of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, presented the findings at the annual meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists in Istanbul, Turkey. They described the temple to be a two-story building made of clay and wood and bound by a galleried courtyard.
Remains of eight clay platforms had been found inside the temple, and experts think that these may have been used as altars. The second story consists of five rooms with walls and floors that were painted in red, creating a ceremonial ambiance, the researchers said.
A platform on the second story holds burnt bones of lamb, which are associated with animal sacrifice. The ground floor, on the other hand, had seven more platforms and a courtyard where pottery fragments and animal bones are scattered.