Built before writing was invented, 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.”
he ground floor contains seven additional platforms and a courtyard riddled with animal bones and pottery fragments, the researchers found.
The temple, which was first detected in 2009, is located in a prehistoric settlement near modern-day Nebelivka. Recent research using geophysical survey indicates the prehistoric settlement is 238 hectares (588 acres), almost twice the size of the modern-day National Mall in Washington, D.C. It contained more than 1,200 buildings and nearly 50 streets.
A number of other prehistoric sites, of similar size, have been found in Ukraine and other parts of Eastern Europe. These sites are sometimes referred to as belonging to the “Trypillian” culture, a modern-day name. The name is derived from the village of Trypillia in Ukraine, where artifacts of this ancient culture were first discovered.
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.