Paleolithic Venus of Willendorf statuette traced to Northern Italy

As detailed in an article on Hyperallergic, researchers at the University of Vienna have now traced the stone used to create the famous Venus of Willendorf statue to Northern Italy. Although unearthed in Willendorf, Austria in 1908, the oolitic limestone from which it was carved is not found in that region, making its origins and meaning even more confounding.

The Venus of Willendorf, estimated at between 25,000 to 30,000 years old, has long been a source of contemporary mystery and intrigue, and for good reason — little was known about its origins and purpose. The statuette, as suggested by its name, was quickly saddled with the burdens of human history, sexualized with a blithe reference to antiquity although the context of its creation in Paleolithic times remained obscure. Now, thanks to research led by anthropologist Gerhard Weber at the University of Vienna, we know that the stone used to mold the figurine originated from northern Italy, over 350 miles away from Willendorf in Austria and across a formidable mountain range, the Alps.

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Image: Bjørn Christian TørrissenCC BY-SA 4.0