Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Venus of Willendorf
The Venus of Willendorf, a small female figurine with exaggerated sexual characteristics, is arguably the most famous example of Paleolithic portable art. It was found in 1908 by archaeologist Joseph Szombathy near the town of Willendorf, Austria, in loess deposits dated to the Aurignacian period (24000–22000 years BP). It is currently housed in the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna. Prehistoric art is generally categorized as either parietal cave/wall art, or portable art. Portable art consists of small, transportable objects made from stone, bone, antler, ivory, or shell. These objects could be obviously functional, such as spearthrowers, or without an obvious function, suggesting ceremonial or ritual use. Portable objects were decorated with images of animals, humans, or symbols; some were sculpted into animal and human figurines. The human figurines, found throughout Eurasia from Western Europe to Siberia, are almost exclusively female. These female statuettes are generally called “Venus figurines” because they The ...