There’s a nice little piece in Russia Beyond The Headlines here on a dozen ancient Russian archeological sites. Some are a little dry (no pun intended given that one is a mummy), but here’s the last of the pre-Christian ones on page one, the Karelian stone labyrinths — and there’s an excellent photo on the site, too. There’s great story material here:
The first stone labyrinths of Karelia, built in prehistoric times by unknown tribes, were discovered in the 16th century. Even then, the local Sami people called them “Babylons.” Such labyrinths are located near the White, Barents and Baltic Seas. Generally, they are sited on islands, peninsulas or estuaries; sometimes they are scattered in isolation or, as on the Solovki Islands, comprise a large group with heaps of stones and long walls made out of boulders. Their exact purpose is still not clear: theories abound that they were burial shrines. Some allege that mazes were built so that the souls of the dead could not find their way back to the living world; other theories hold that they were a place for the young to perform ritualistic dances. However, it is most likely that the spiral labyrinths were constructed in honor of the gods of the sea, entreating them to provide more fish. Perhaps that is why they are often found in the vicinity of fishing regions.