The Venus of Willendorf, also known as the Woman of Willendorf, is a 4 3/8 inches-high statuette of a female figure estimated to have been created between 24,000 BCE – 22,000 BCE. It was discovered in 1908 by archaeologist Josef Szombathy at a paleolithic site near Willendorf, a village in Lower Austria near the city of Krems. It is carved from an oolitic limestone that is not local to the area, and tinted with red ochre.
Since this figure's discovery and naming, several similar statuettes and other forms of art have been discovered. They are collectively referred to as Venus figurines, although they pre-date the mythological figure of Venus by millennia.No one would mistake the Stone Age ivory carving for a Venus de Milo. The voluptuous woman depicted is, to say the least, earthier, with huge, projecting breasts and sexually explicit genitals.
A new discovery of a busty female figurine pre-dates the Woman of Willendorf by some 10,000 years.
Nicholas J. Conard, an archaeologist at the University of Tübingen, in Germany, who found the small carving in a cave last year, said it was at least 35,000 years old, “one of the oldest known examples of figurative art” in the world. It is about 5,000 years older than some other so-called Venus artifacts made by early populations of Homo sapiens in Europe.
The tiny statuette was uncovered in September in a cave in southwestern Germany, near Ulm and the Danube headwaters. Dr. Conard’s report on the find is being published Thursday in the journal Nature.
Since this figure's discovery and naming, several similar statuettes and other forms of art have been discovered. They are collectively referred to as Venus figurines, although they pre-date the mythological figure of Venus by millennia.