Hey, Venus

Very cool discovery about our beloved Venus of Willendorf figure.

Although she was found in Austria along the Danube River (which is how she got her name), researchers knew that she wasn’t originally from there, due to the material she was made out of, oolite, a type of limestone that is not present along the Danube in Austria.

Similar figurines made of different materials show up across Europe and across time.

But it turns out this particular Venus is almost definitely Italian, from the region around Lake Garda, which is about 80 miles east of Milan. And it may have taken years or even centuries for her to make the journey from where she was shaped to where she was found.

Che belleza!

You can learn more here, or read the original research paper here.

Image from the Smithsonian Institution.

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3 responses to “Hey, Venus

  1. It’s good that the article and the paper don’t go far past what can actually be known to interpret it. One of the most annoying things about such figures from tens of thousands of years ago is that they are almost inevitably presented as being made by men for stereotypically “male” motives. I’ve never seen one interpreted as having been made by a woman or women (we don’t know how many hands went into making the objects) for other motives than are considered, things like that they are self-portraits, portraits of the artists’ mother or even that they might have had something like satirical motivation. The fact is that other than what the object is clearly meant to depict and the physical description of the object, all of the rest of it tells us more about the very contemporary people asserting things about it. I’d love to read speculations made by women on the assumption that it was women who made them. They’d be as valid as any of the typical speculations that fill the media and literature.

    • I read one interpretation stating they are self-portraits, done without reflective devices, the artist looking down at her own body. This may explain the relatively small arms and hands. I think it reflects a society experiencing abundance.

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