30,000-year-old Austrian statue traced to stone from Italy
Saturday, March 5, 2022
The 30 thousand-year-old sculpture is one of the oldest examples of human art. It stands about 4.3 inches (11 cm) tall. Like many prehistoric statuettes, it shows a female figure with a large stomach and breasts. However, while most of these other examples were carved from ivory or bone, the Venus is made of a stone called, a type of . Scientists believe it was by people of the culture, probably with tools. Scientists named it after Venus, the goddess of love.
Scientists compared rock samples from as west as France and as east as Ukraine to microscopic views of the Venus. Because oolite is a formed by layers of silt and other materials building up over time, it is possible to discern individual grains and bits of shell that make up the stone. One of the tiny shell fragments in the statue came from a creature that lived during the , though the stone itself would have been harvested and carved much later.
Unlike previous examinations of the Venus, which evaluated only the exterior of the work, scientists usedto look inside the statue without damaging it. The scan showed the Venus had little resemblance with oolites near Willendorf, but that it was almost identical to those from in Italy, on the other side of the and the river, over 350 miles (563 km) away. A less possible site of origin is in Ukraine, over 1,600 kilometers (994 mi) east of where the statue was found in 1908, in , Austria.
Lead author Gerhard Weber speculated the stone may have moved during a migration: "When the climate or the prey situation changed, [people] moved on, preferably along rivers," he said.
The scientists say these findings have implications for the way prehistoric humans in and around the Alps traveled from place to place.
The study was funded by the state of.
- Alex Greenberger. "Venus of Willendorf’s Origins Are Traced Back to Italy, Solving Longstanding Archaeological Mystery" — , March 1, 2022
- Mindy Weisberger. "Voluptuous 'Venus' of the Ice Age originated in Italy" — , March 1, 2022
- University of Vienna. "Mystery solved about the origin of the 30,000-year-old Venus of Willendorf" — , February 28, 2022
- Gerhard W. Weber, Alexander Lukeneder, Mathias Harzhauser, Philipp Mitteroecker, Lisa Wurm, Lisa-Maria Hollaus, Sarah Kainz, Fabian Haack, Walpurga Antl-Weiser & Anton Kern. "The microstructure and the origin of the Venus from Willendorf" — , February 28, 2022