One thing I love about this class is that through lecture I hear tidbits of facts and information from other classes I have taken before. They are usually not talked about much in this class, which gives me a great opportunity to research more information on them for blog topics. In this section of the class the one thing that stuck out to me that I’ve heard of before is the Venus of Willendorf. I find this statue very interesting because of the way the woman is built is seen as a sign of fertility. It is also called the Woman of Willendorf, and is only 11cm tall. I find the fact that something so small as this to be of great archaeological importance fascinating. It is estimated that it was made between 24,000 and 22,000 BCE, but wasn’t found until 1908 by a man named Johann Veran. He found it in during an excavation at a Paleolithic site near Willendorf, a city in lower Austria. The Venus of Willendorf is carved out of oolithic limestone and is tinted with red ochre. This limestone is not a local stone to the area, leaving room for interpretation as to where the stone came from and how it go to they city of Willendorf. There were many other Venus figures found later to match in a set together.
This statue was one of the earliest made to look like humankind and was most likely made my hunters and gathers. These hunter and gatherers lived in an environment that was much colder than present day, most likely the end of the ice age. The fatness of the woman makes her very desirable at the time because of the environment. At that time the most important thing was reproduction, so the size of the woman, her breast and her pelvic areas were of most importance to the artist when creating this statue. Her legs are very large and are touching all the way down to her knees, where they then reach her very detailed pelvic area. On the other hand her arms are very small and tiny and are placed on top of her breasts. Another interesting characteristic of all Paleolithic Venus figurine statues is that they all lack a face. Some argue that a face is the key point of featuring human identity, and that lacking a face symbolizes that this statue isn’t a representation of someone, but that it is a representation of an anonymous sexual object and that the physical body and its representation of fertility is the more important aspect. Aside from the Venus of Willendorf not having a face, it is mostly covered up by what seems to be her hair. It looks like her hair is braided in one continuous long braid and wrapped around her head, but in reality it is 7 concentric horizontal bands that encircle her head, with two more half bands below the bottom of her neck. Many Paleolithic figurines do not have specific attention drawn to hair, meaning that this artist was intending it to be of some significance. In later cultures hair is considered to be a source of strength and as the seat of the soul. Hair also has a long history as a source of erotic attraction giving more evidence to this figurine being a form of fertility.