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The world’s oldest sculpture

The world’s oldest sculpture, unearthed by archaeologists so far, is a quite recent find. It was only discovered in 2008 by a team of German archaeologists from the University of Tuebingen.

Venus of Hohle Fels

The Venus of Hohle Fels is 35,00 years old (Photo courtesy Gerbil)

The sculpture was excavated in the Hohle Fels cave (which simply means hollow rock), where teams of the university have been digging on a yearly basis ever since 1977. It is believed to be approximately 35,000 years old and was re-assembled form several pieces that had broken apart.

The figurine depicts a voluptuous naked woman with clearly accentuated sexual features, which makes it likely that it was used as a kind of fertility amulet. Another interpretation would be a protection amulet since the woman is holding her belly; protection from illness for a pregnant woman for example.

The woman does not have a head, but instead there is a perforation, so the figurine could be worn as a pendant. It has been called the Venus of Hohle Fels in the tradition of other Venus figurines depicting female individuals.

I think it’s fascinating that people who lived such a long time ago were really not that primitive, as they are sometimes depicted, after all. They were not just struggling for survival, but they had more complex lives with rituals and an art of their own. A flute dating back to about the same time was found in that very cave as well.

What this find means to our perception of culture is also mentioned in an interesting short video clip about the figurine by Nature Magazine called Prehistoric Pinup that I recommend. It’s only a few minutes long:
www.nature.com/nature/videoarchive/prehistoricpinup/

Posted in Culture.


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