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Venus of the Ice age

(World of an item)

Semantics of Paleolithic Venuses is still not decrypted. Some researchers see images of goddess, progenitress, symbol of fertility in them. Other think that these are depictions of participants of ancient magical rituals determined to bring luck on hunt or images of real women different in their constitution and emotional state. A fragment of such statuette was first found in 1894 in Brassempouy (France). Later such figurines were discovered in 1908 in Central Europe (Willendorf, Austria), and then in 1923 in Eastern Europe (Kostenki 1 (top layer) – Russia).

Upper-Paleolithic campsite Kostenki 1 (23-21 thousands years ago) – remains of long-term mammoth hunter settlement of Russian Plain. It was located on cape of Pokrovsky ravine, in village Kostenki of Voronezh Oblast, on river Don. Discovered in 1879 by I.S. Polyakov, this campsite was researched by such distinguished archeologists as A.I. Kelsyev, S.A. Krukovskiy, P.P. Yefimenko, A.N. Rogachev.

About 40 thousand years ago during the Great Ice age an event happened, beginning a new page in the history of mankind. A human of modern type appeared on iceless spaces of Europe (homo sapiens – “wise man” or “knowing man”).

Upper (late) Paleolithic age started (derived from Greek: παλαιός, palaios, "old"; and λίθος, lithos, "stone"). Its beginning is defined by the time of global warming (abt. 10 thousand years ago) when territory of prehistoric Europe had become completely free of ice shell. Upper Paleolithic age is a period of important changes in ancient human’s material culture: technique of stone and bone treatment improved, methods of clay baking mastered, visual arts appeared. Images of both animals (mammoth, reindeer, cave lion etc.) and humans that reached our days are surprising in their mastery of performance and accuracy.

Special place among masterpieces of Paleolithic art is taken by women statuettes discovered at campsites of 21-25 thousands years age. Exactly these figurines were called “Paleolithic Venuses”. All of them are made in bright realistic manner and reproduce a woman with expressed sexual characters.

Exposed exhibit is a figurine made from mammoth ivory found in Kostenki 1 (top layer) in 1936. “Venus” from Kostenki reproduces a naked woman in full height with corpulent body shape. Height of the figurine is 11,7 cm.

Exhibition was open: July – September 2001.