Room 2. Late Paleolith (40-11 thousand years ago)

The room is dedicated to primitives who lived in the era of Great Glaciation. Severe climate could not hamper man’s settling. During this period people actually spread over entire Eurasia, except for the territory occupied by the glacier though. Finds at their sites and their unique burials pertaining to that time demonstrate how people adapted themselves to living in near-glacier wastelands, opening up various types of ore, creating new instruments of labour, learning to work bone, horn and tusk, building dwellings, making clothes.

The walls are decorated with the pictorial frieze «Stone Age» created by V.M.Vasnetsov in 1885. Vivid images render the spirit of the Age. Everything represented on canvas reflects the level of scientific knowledge about this period in the 19th century. That was the then prevalent idea of the primitive’s lodgings and everyday engagements. Particularly impressing is a collective mammoth hunting scene elucidating how toilsome and hazardous the life of primitives really was, how much effort it took to survive in the severe climate of the near-glacier wasteland.

case 1
Exhibited in case 1 are the sites of the Russian Plain Kostcnki, Gagarino, Yeliseevichi, Timonovka – that became so popular in the world due to the finds of primitive art pieces whose age ranges from 30 to 15 thousand years. In the centre are two small female figurines made from tusk. Symbolizing the fertile womb, they could have been part of a magic rite involving an appeal to this force.

Such figurines are named «Paleolithic Venuses» in science. They are found on the sites of Central Europe and in the Trans-Baikal region. According to some researchers, those works of art do not only point to the development of fine arts among primitives, but also to their aspiration to fix important information and communicate it to future generations, for no group could exist without it. Art and related worldviews make man distinct from the animal world.

case 2
Exhibited in case 2 are things from Malta site in the Trans-Baikal region: stone implements – burins, scrapers, piercing tools, bone handles with stone inlays provided with a sharp cutting edge inserted in their slots, bone needles for sewing and adorning garments, a nephritic pendant. These items testify to the improved stone processing techniques, putting new materials to use and development of new skills.

The Malta site is also famous for works of art. Besides female statuettes, bird figurines (in the centre of the case) were also found here. They are noted for such keenness of observation that it is easy to determine their breed – a polar partridge with motley plumage, a goose with his craned neck.
Those figurines were possibly created as receptacles of souls and used as amulets protecting people from evil spirits. Such an assumption agrees with ethnographic data. The malta collection of bird figurines is singular and unique.

Case 4 presents a copy of the burial from Sungir site of the Vladimir region. Its age exceeds 25 thousand years. Such finds from the Ice Age are extremely rare. The buried ones were teen-agers; the reason for their simultaneous death and burial in one grave is unknown. The ritual was rather sophisticated: the dead were put in a row, their heads aligned, in garments embroidered with thousands of beads made from mammoth tusk. Several short spears and a long one (also made of tusk) were placed along the body. The find reflects a very complicated system of views representing a high level of spiritual culture developed by the glacial-epoch community. Well-preserved sculls enabled anthropologists to restore the appearance of the buried boy and girl of contemporary physical type.

In the pier between windows
Genuine mammoth tusks are exhibited in the pier between windows. In the late XIX century merchant I.Gromov from Irkutsk found them on the bank of the Yenisei River in the permafrost stratum and later donated them to the Historical Museum.

Over every case are copies of the drawings from the unique Cape Cave in the Urals, where paintings of the glacial epoch were discovered. Ancient artists who lived some 18 thousand years ago would represent the animals they were hunting, since the primitive community subsisted on them. Most likely, those drawings were used in magic hunting rites.

case 6
The finds from Kokorevo site in Krasnoyarsk Territory and Zaraiskaya site in the Moscow region exhibited in case 6 tell the story of people in the early Stone Age – their active spreading over the European part of Russia and Siberian south.

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