The temple had been built by a people called the Trypillian, after Trypillia, a village near Kiev. They had built the first proto-cities in Europe and were known for their skill in pottery-making, architecture, metal-working and agriculture. They are thought to have had a matriarchal society.
The most unusual aspect of the Trypillians’ culture was the periodic destruction of their own towns. Every 60 or 80 years the Trypillians would burn a settlement to the ground. In some cases they would rebuild on top of the old settlement, with the new buildings keeping the shape and position of the originals. Researchers are still not sure why the Trypillians did this.
The newly-found temple was one such burned-out building. One of the largest yet found, it was 60 meters (197 feet) long and 21 meters (69 feet) wide. It was two stories tall and had been made of clay and wood. The ground floor contained family altars made of clay, while the top floor was divided into five rooms.