Peat Bog Wood Snake


During excavations in peat bogs in southwestern Finland, archaeologists found a wooden figurine 53 cm long and only 2.5-3 cm thick. It was carved from a single piece of wood, the type of which has not yet been determined, and depicts a snake. The surface of the figurine is completely finished, but not decorated in any way. A wriggling snake with a raised head and open mouth, according to archaeologists, resembles an ordinary viper (Viper brushes) or narrower (Natrix natrix).

The figurine was found in peat at a depth of 60 cm from the surface. The composition of the peat suggests that at the time the snake came here, the shore of the ancient lake was covered with lush meadow vegetation of sedge and reed. According to radiocarbon analysis, the find belongs to the late Neolithic period of Fennoscandia: 2471-2291 BC.

Experts consider the snake figurine to be unique, suggesting that it most likely belongs to the ritual sphere. In the art of the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Early Bronze Age of Northern Europe, the snake motif is not very common, although images of snakes made of amber, horn, bone, stone, wood and clay are known. There is also a small number of rock paintings on the Kola Peninsula, in Karelia, Finland and Sweden, where, in addition to snake-like figures, there is an image of a man with a snake in his hand. This detail, according to researchers, could be a staff or a figurine in the form of a snake, similar to the artifact found in Järvensuo. Nevertheless, scientists do not have data for an unequivocal statement that this is a ritual rod or sculpture.

Järvensuo is an ancient swampy area in southwestern Finland. The first finds here were accidental: during excavation work in the 1950s, workers discovered a wooden oar. Radiocarbon dating dates it to 3331-2462 BC, that is, to the Neolithic era. Three decades later, Neolithic fishing tackle, pottery and a wooden shovel with a handle in the shape of a bear’s head were found in the same place. In addition to archaeological work, paleobotanical research has also been carried out. In 2020, they returned to the excavations in Järvensuo, and then a mysterious figure was found.

The Järvensuo I site is still a poorly studied archaeological site, and its nature is not fully understood. Given the massive finds associated with fishing, archaeologists suggest that economic activity was carried out here. But it is not excluded, and the cult value of the place, which may be due to the location on the shore of the lake.


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