Full-Figured Statuette 35,000 Years Old

May 18th, 2009 by

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Dr. Conard reported that the discovery was made beneath three feet of red-brown sediment in the floor of the Hohle Fels Cave. Six fragments of the carved ivory, including all but the left arm and shoulder, were recovered. When he brushed dirt off the torso, he said, “the importance of the discovery became apparent.”

The short, squat torso is dominated by oversize breasts and broad buttocks. The split between the two halves of the buttocks is deep and continuous without interruption to the front of the figurine. A greatly enlarged vulva emphasizes the “deliberate exaggeration” of the figurine’s sexual characteristics, Dr. Conard said.

The object reminded experts of the most famous of the sexually explicit figurines from the Stone Age, the Venus of Willendorf, discovered in Austria a century ago. That Venus is somewhat larger and dated about 24,000 years ago, but it is in a style that appeared to have been prevalent for several thousand years. Scholars speculate that these Venus figurines, as they are known, were associated with fertility beliefs or shamanistic rituals.

The Hohle Fels artifact, less than 2.5 inches long and weighing little more than an ounce, is headless. Carved at the top, instead, is a ring, evidently to allow the object to be suspended from a string or thong.

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