Археологический музей ИвГУ


European Association of Archaeologists. Third Annual Meeting: Abstracts. Ravenna, 1997. P. 109, 110. [Italy]

Alexander Utkin & Elena Kostyleva


The Volosovo culture is one of the most outstanding and well-studied archaeological cultures of the Central Russian Valley. Most of researchers attribute to the forest Eneolithic period. The economy of the Volosovo population was based on huntering and gathering, i.e. all its material culture reflected further development of economical system which had been formed in the previous epochs.

On the contrary spiritual culture of the Volosovo population differed greatly from that of the Neolithic population. The fullest reflection it got in the funeral ritual and in the series of various findings attributed by researchers to the subjects of ancient art.

One of the most interesting categories of these findings is the category of sculptural models of phallus. They are small in number (only 11 are known), made of bone, horn or wood, L-shaped and consist as if of two parts: the long one - representation of the phallus itself, and the short one - a handle.

The sculptural phallus is made life-size and has a well-known anatomical bulge. Along its external edge there is a shallow groove for to insert a bone mooving bar imitating a bear's os penis.

The handle is located in 90 to the phallus and is designed in different ways. It is either a small blade in the form of an oblong rhombus ornamented with slanting cut lines, or a realistic representation of the goose/swan-head.

Five models were found in the cultural layers of Yazykovo-I, Ivanov-skoe-VII, Chernaya Gora, Shagara-II and Volosovo sites. Others were found in the burial tools and decorations treasures in the Ivanovskoe-III site and Sakhtysh-II cemetery, where they are dated by C-14 3800-4150 BP.

In other words, the mostly reliable documented conditions of location of the most part of the models, their specific construction and representation of the erected penis testify to the fact that these subjects had particulary cult function. Evidently, on the one hand the sculptural phallic models personified naturalized fertility symbol, and on the other hand they served as an instrument with the help of which the Volosovo "shamans" (pagan priests) ritually "fertilized" maidens. In this procedure the sculptural phallic model played a role of ancestor's penis, and the goose/swan-head-formed handle (or its stylized analogy - a blade) symbolized the ancestor's sole. (As it is known, many primitive people represented a sole in the form of a bird; and in the ancient Veda language the word 'hamsa' meant both 'a goose' and 'a sole, which sensed the High Spirit, Divine Truth').

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