New discovery highlights ingenuity during the Ice Age

Shutterstock.com/ Zoran Milosavljevic

There are many mysteries about the ancient world. One of the greatest questions is how humanity survived through the Ice Age when it killed off animals that were able to withstand far colder temperatures, like the wooly mammoth. Of course, the size of the mammoth meant that it needed far more food to survive and so it likely died of starvation or because it was the food that kept humanity going. Yet without any technology to keep people alive, their own battle must have been incredibly arduous. A new discovery has revealed one of the incredible techniques used to withstand the brutal conditions.

In the region of Ukraine and West Russia, there are many wide-open spaces that are just now being researched properly by archaeologists. These spaces appear to show the remains of many animals in a circular mound. While this was originally thought to have been some sort of ritual sacrifice or burial ground, it is now believed to be something very different.

The latest find is from the Kostenski site and has bones that are over 20,000 years old. This places them during the Ice Age. The bones found were from 64 mammoths as well as reindeer, horses, bears, wolves, and foxes. Why were all these remains grouped together in such a strange way? Experts now believe that they were used with wood to create a protective hut from the incredible conditions outside. These bones could survive whatever tough climates were being thrown at them and provided a place for humanity to rest and to evolve. 

It is believed that humans did not enter the Ice Age as the dominant force but that it did come out of it as the leader. This may be because in these small huts it was able to develop tools and techniques to survive.

Experts suggest that the remains found were not killed on site but brought from different burial grounds reflecting the large operation that was likely required to complete it. The site is incredible because the places across Europe that were situated at this latitude were largely abandoned by this time. It was too cold to survive there. Yet the hunter-gatherers in the Ukraine region were smart enough and strong enough to survive. They found a unique way to not only stay in the region but to come out as the dominant species. This was a time when large mammoths, mastodons, saber-toothed tigers, and giant sloths roamed the area. It was not an easy place to live.

When you consider that these bones were found to be 20,000 years old and the cold period ended around 12,000 years ago, it suggests that these structures were built to last. Plant remains were also found inside suggesting that those dwelling there may have used them to create medicine, poisons, and fabrics. 

This discovery in the western region of Russia and Ukraine provides a missing part of the jigsaw of how civilization got through one of the toughest times ever. It would have made far more sense for these civilizations to either die out or leave the area but the remains show that they found a way to survive. Today we as a society face unprecedented challenges caused by climate change, pandemics, and poor leaders. While our extinction is not yet on the cards, who knows what the future holds. If we can learn something from these societies of old it could hold the key to surviving in the future. While a future Ice Age does look unlikely, the odds are increasingly stacked against people. This incredible discovery shows the tenacity of the hunter-gatherers during an incredible time of hardship and struggle.