The Woman of Willendorf
The Woman of Willendorf, formerly called Venus of Willendorf, is the name given to a small statue found in 1908. The statue takes its name from the small Austrian village, Willendorf, near where it was found. Measuring only about four inches high, it is estimated to have been created between 25,000 and 30,000 years ago.
Hundreds of these tiny statues have been found in various parts of Europe. The Woman of Willendorf and many of the other small female figurines were originally called “Venuses,” although there is no association with the goddess Venus, whom they predate by several thousand years. Today, in academic and art circles, she is known as the Woman rather than the Venus, to avoid inaccuracies.
For years, archaeologists believed that these figurines were fertility figures – possibly associated with a deity – based upon the rounded curves, exaggerated breasts and hips, and obvious pubic triangle. The Woman of Willendorf has a large, rounded head – although she lacks any facial features – but some of the female figurines from the Paleolithic period appear without a head at all.
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