Museum of the Origins of Man



NAKED FEMALE FIGURES (CALLED VENUSES) IN PALEOLITHIC SCULPTURE


Making naked woman is subdivided in three phases:
- from 400,000 to 200,000 years (Acheulean and middle Clactonian), C.TH.
- from 200,000 to 40,000 years (Acheulean and recent Clactonian and Mousterian),
- from 40,000 to 12,000 years (upper Paleolithic),
The typology of the sculptures is constituted from feminine naked statuine and without feet (" Venus "), where the attributes of the sex are evidenced.
The most ancient has absolute dating, (Fig. 8,1) and is the only known of the lower Paleolithic. All the other " Venus ", in the twentieth century, have had various cultural attributions, of which the most ancient was the Aurignacian. Currently, for some authors, is the Gravettian.
In this classification, some " Venus " are attributed to middle Paleolithic, that is to Mousterian (Fig. 8.3), as with the features of the face or the head similar to the Neanderthalians. Moreover they have a pointed hood or perhaps a pointed hairdo, and prevails the look towards the high.
The " Venus " of the upper Paleolithic generally have a bent head, that is the look towards the bottom and an accurate hairdo (Fig. 8.6).
In Italy (Balzi Rossi) a two-faced "Venus" has been found (Fig. 8.7). The discovery goes back to the nineteenth century, therefore the cultural attribution generically is the Aurignacian.
The " Venus " continue in the Neolithic, often made in terracotta. They assume new shapes and different names: goddess of the fecundity, goddess mother, great mother, etc.
In Mexico we find in abundance " Venus " with two-faced head, and also " Venus " with two heads.




Fig. 8,1) Anthropomorphic lithic sculpture (Drawing). It represents a naked woman, found by Dr. NAAMA GOREN-INBAR in 1980. These types of sculptures have been called " Venus " from the first discoverers. They thought that these women represent the feminine ideal for paleolithic men; subsequently, the cult of the fecundity has been attributed to them, that is they are " idols "; they are " divinities ". But, in spite of this enormous
change of meant, "Venus" name is remained!
This Venus is the most ancient and smallest known. As the other Venus, she has well represented the attributes of the sex, and she has not represented, neither hands, neither feet, neither features of the face. This sculpture is without legs.
Size: height cm. 3.5.
Origin: Berekhat Ram, northern Golan, Israel.
Material culture: Acheulean
Absolute datings: from 233,000 to 800,000 years; other dating from 330,000 to 800,000 years. However, a palethnologist states 233.000 and another 330.000 years; paleoanthropologists which for theyr skeletal findings prefer the more ancient datings, sure will date at 800.000 years!
Prof. A. Marschack, Dr. F. D' Errico, Prof. A. Nowell, Prof. A.Pelcin, Prof. P.G. Bahn, Prof. Vertut, and naturally Dr. Goren-Inbar have been interested in this sculpture.


clikka per ingrandire l'immagine

Fig. 8.2) Anthropomorphic lithic sculpture.It represents a human figure with pointed hood, or pointed hairdo, and with a human head on the back. It is the only sculpture of this type that we know. We have discarded the attribution of two-faced representation, than however is not to exclude. It seems to us, for how much a little premature, the representation of a woman who transports on the back a skull, following a ritual still present in the African ethnography, where a young woman (Fig. 3,23) transports, tied on the back, the skull of the died relative. The additional hypothesis is a girl for pointed head, like the other Venus; but also, being a representation that narrates a funeral ritual, the attributes of the sex are not represented , like in the other Venus. The head or the skull applied on the back has look down.
For the head, the neck and the shoulder, it seem to us to represent a Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.
Size: height cm. 24.
Origin: Tiglieto, Genoa, Italy.
Material culture: Mousterian.
Collection Museum of the Origins of Man.


Fig. 8.3) Anthropomorphic lithic sculpture.It represents a naked woman, with all the attributes of the sex in evidence, and the pointed hood or a pointed hairdo. It is the "Venus of Savignano ", the most famous between Italian Venuses. It has been found in 1925, during diggings for buildings, completely outside cultural context. For beyond 70 years it has been attributed to the Aurignacian; now some scholars want attribute it to Gravettian; we attribute it to Mousterian, as for the head, the neck and the shoulder seems to us to represent a Homo sapiens neanderthalensis. Similar pointed hood, neck and shoulder are in sculpture of Tiglieto (Fig. 8,2).
Size: height cm. 22.
Origin: Savignano sul Panaro, Modena, Italy.
Material culture: Mousterian
Museum Preistorico Etnografico Luigi Pigorini, Rome.


Fig. 8.4) Anthropomorphic lithic sculpture. It represents a naked woman, with in evidence all the attributes of the sex. She is looking up, and with pointed hood or pointed hairdo. For the profile of the head, the human type is Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.
Size: height cm. 6.
Origin: Balzi Rossi, Imperia, Italy.
Material culture: Mousterian or upper Paleolithic (Aurignacian).
Museum of the National Antiquities of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Paris.


clikka per ingrandire l'immagine

Fig. 8.5) Anthropomorphic lithic sculpture. It represents a naked woman.In evidence all the attributes of the sex. Sculpture has be found by Pietro Gaietto in 1969 in the same territory where the famous " Venus of Savignano " (Fig. 8,3)has been found.
This sculpture is obtained from a little slab of stone with thickness of cm. 1. It is eroded in the corners for alluvial tumbling. For the back and the pointed head it can be considered Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, and for these characteristics, is similar to the other Venus of Savignano, and to Venus o the Balzi Rossi (Fig. 8,4). It is fat as the Venus of Willendorf (Fig. 8,6).
Size: height cm. 13.5 - thickness cm. 1.
Origin: Savignano sul Panaro, Modena, Italy.
Material culture: Mousterian.
Museum of the Origins of Man.


Fig. 8.6) Anthropomorphic lithic sculpture. It is the very famous Venus of Willendorf. This coloured photo is a cast, a copy of the sculpture. The original has small recordings in the zone of the hands, that integrate the carved part. It has a beautiful hairdo, that could also be a hat of shells ( see hat of shells of the Arene Candide Fig. 3,22); it does not have features of the face, that is it does not have face, and is looking down. Probably it represents a Homo sapiens sapiens.
Size: cm. 11.
Origin: Willendorf, Austria.
Material culture: upper Paleolithic


Fig. 8,8) Venus of Laussel. It represents a naked woman with a horn in a hand. The face, or perhaps the hair, does not exist, as it has been destroyed. Often the feminine images do not have face.
Size: height. cm. 43.
Origin: Laussel, France.
Material culture: Upper Paleolithic



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