New report on oldest, largest mammoth bone building found to date
March 25, 2020 1:23 PM   Subscribe

Mammoth-bone buildings are well-known to archaeologists (previously). Similar structures have been found across Eastern Europe, typically a few meters in diameter, have been dated back as far as 22,000 years. Researchers have generally considered them to be dwellings or “mammoth houses” that helped their builders cope with frigid temperatures near the nadir of the last Ice Age. The new structure, first discovered at Kostenki (Wikipedia) in 2014, is 3,000 years older than those, and the largest mammoth bone structure found to date, consisting of the bones of 60 mammoths (Smithsonian; full academic paper).
posted by filthy light thief (5 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Dammit- I'm trying to self-isolate! Who keeps letting these darn scientists into my pad?
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 3:19 PM on March 25, 2020 [6 favorites]

I'm pretty sure it was an abandoned site. If not, I'm sorry for invading your personal space 😋
posted by filthy light thief at 3:59 PM on March 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

Very cool. It's a circle, which implies “hurt like building” but with such a variety of bones, I'd love to know if the distribution of types is radially symmetrical - if anything implies the structure was cathedral-like?
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:19 PM on March 25, 2020

Bone has often been thought of as the primary fuel at mammoth bone sites due to an apparent lack of charcoal and presumed climatic constraints on tree growth
It seems that nearly everything I would have naively thought I knew about bone is, in fact, wrong.

This is very cool!
posted by eotvos at 7:25 AM on March 26, 2020

The Wikipedia page mentions that "The settlement name Kostyonki itself is a derivation from кость" which means "bone" in Ukrainian and all Slavic languages. That can't be a coincidence, right? I'd be curious if there's any indication of when that name came into use and if it's known to be connected to this, but didn't see that in the article.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 1:46 PM on March 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

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