Archaeologists exploring the remains of a 6,000 year old temple in Ukraine have found evidence of complex sacrificial practices at the site.
The temple, thought to belong to the ancient Trypillian culture, was found near the modern-day city of Nebelivka and originally unearthed in 2009.
Burnt bones of lambs were found lying on the remains of stone altars, suggesting sacrifices had taken place on the site.
The building, which was two stories high, was part of a vast 288 acre prehistoric settlement which may have contained as many as 1,200 buildings.
The temple itself measures 60 metres by 20 metres and was made of wood and clay. It included a gallery and a courtyard.
The researchers, from the Institute of Archaeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, speculated that the floors and walls of the upstairs rooms appear to have been decorated with red paint in order to inspire a sense of sacrificial awe in its occupants.
In these rooms, altars took pride of place. Clay figures of humans were found, scattered around the ceremonial areas, with pottery fragments and human hair decorations also found.
An academic paper describing the finds at the temple was published by John Chapman, Mikhail Yu. Videiko, Bisserka Gaydarska, Natalia Burdo, Duncan Hale in the Journal of Neolithic Archaeology late last month.