VENUS OF WILLENDORF FERTILITY FIGURINE HAS BEEN A MYSTERY, NOW WE KNOW A LITTLE MORE
So every single time I see a picture of this figurine, I remember its name: the Venus of Willendorf. It is noteworthy, with that insanely feminine and fertile figure. But it was especially so when I learned about it freshman year in high school. As you might imagine, it wasn’t the penultimate adolescent’s idea of femininity. Quite the contrary. But that hormone fueled dissonance made it memorable, especially when it came to remembering its name on the final test. But it has some amazing history, just because it could be 30,000 years old! And it’s only now that researchers have even figured out where the stone came from!
DISCOVERED IN 1908 IN AUSTRIA, THE STONE VENUS IS CARVED FROM CAME FROM NORTHERN ITALY
So here’s some brief history of the Venus figurine. A workman found it in 1908 near Willendorf, a small village in Lower Austria. Historians consider it to be a masterpiece from the Paleolithic era. To see it in person, you’ll have to go to Vienna’s Natural History Museum. We don’t know much about it, but we do know that it is somewhere between 25,000-30,000 years old. Or, 15 times how long it’s been since the birth of Christ. But researchers from the University of Vienna and the Natural History Museum have found that the Venus figurine was carved from stone likely from Northern Italy.
WITH ALPS IMPASSABLE, IT LIKELY TOOK VENUS GENERATIONS TO TRAVEL SO FAR NORTH, 28,000 BC
Why does that matter? Well, even only 25 millennia ago it wasn’t easy to walk from Austria to Northern Italy. Back then, the Alps had a thick ice cap, meaning it was almost impossible to cross them. So the Venus of Willendorf’s trip from northern Italy to Austria likely took generations, as the people who carried it followed more comfortable climes and available food to hunt and gather. So now, we know just a little bit more about human migration well before there were countries anywhere in Europe. You might say this little fertility Venus figurine used to get around. But she was no fast lady.
I just hope we can somehow learn even more about the Venus of Willendorf, though that will be a tall order, if not as tall as the then impenetrable Alps.