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6,000-Year-Old Temple With Possible Sacrificial Altars Found in Ukraine

A 6,000-year-old temple holding humanlike figurines and sacrificed animal remains has been discovered within a massive prehistoric settlement in Ukraine. Built before writing was invented, the temple is about 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, all decorated by red paint.

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 Nataliya Burdo and Mykhailo Videiko, of the Institute of Archaeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. The ground floor contains seven additional platforms and a courtyard riddled with animal bones and pottery fragments.

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 temple dating back about 6,000 years has been discovered within a massive prehistoric settlement in Ukraine. Nataliya Burdo and Mykhailo Videiko/Institute of Archaeology NAS of Ukraine
—Owen Jarus, LiveScience

This is a condensed version of a report from LiveScience. Read the full report. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+.