Impressions of a Stone Age Icon

The Venus of Willendorf in the box where it had found a home for the first 80 years after its discovery.

What does the Venus of Willendorf, worked by flint tools about 29,500 years ago, actually represent?

An exceptionally gifted human being of the Ice Age created a sublime „art object“ that was certainly not intended as such at the time.

Its beauty is based on the perfection and harmony of the design.

The headdress may indicate a hair style or cap.

The details of posture and adornment appear to be subject to strict rules.

Her tiny hands rest on its breasts.

We do not know whether the people of the Old Stone Age considered those figurines as women, mothers, life-giving powers, or ancestresses.

Feminists consider it the First Mother turned into stone in support of the matriarchal theory. For the study of prehistoric art, it is one of the most important examples of the artistic work of the Old Stone Age.

Now what do we know about the Venus figurines from an archaeological point of view?

The stone of which the Venus is made: oolite

29 500 years ago a stone figurine was covered with red ochre and hidden in the ground near Willendorf (Lower Austria).

Figurines like the Venus of Willendorf have been found from France to Russia.

Szombathy immediately realized the importance of the find. He photographed the place where the Venus had been found and retired with Bayer to the tavern located below the railway line.

On August 7th, 1908, Josef Szombathy, the head of the anthropologic-prehistoric collection of the Imperial Natural History Museum in Vienna, drew a sketch of the position of the figurine as it was found into his diary.

Natural History Museum Vienna
Credits: Story

NHM Vienna

Responsible for the Project: Antl-Weiser Walpurga, Golebiowski Reinhard, Köberl Christian, Mayrhofer Susanne, Ott Iris, Stöckle Gabriel

Credits: All media
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