The Venus of Brassempouy, a prehistoric figurine carved over 25,000 years ago


The Venus of Brassempouy is an ancient figurine which dates back at least 25,000 years.

This mysterious figurine was discovered in France in 1892.

The intricately carved fragmentary figurine has been successfully verified and dates back 25,000 years.

Curiously, experts say that although the style of representation is essentially realistic, the proportions of the head do not correspond exactly to any known human population of the present or past.

 

 

The Venus of Brassempouy is a fragmentary ivory figurine from the Upper Palaeolithic. It was found in a cave at Brassempouy, France in 1892. According to experts, this incredible fragmentary figurine is at least 25,000 years old. It is considered one of the earliest known realistic representations of a human face.

The head is 3.65 cm high, 2.2 cm deep and 1.9 cm wide. The face is triangular and seems tranquil. While forehead, nose, and brows are carved in relief, the mouth is absent.

The stylized feminine face has a level of details really surprising for the time in which it was made. The details and perfection are mindboggling. Stranger still is the complex hairstyle which is observed over the head.

Many authors argue that the top and sides are incised with a representation of braided hair or an Egyptian-style headdress.

When the statue was found— at the end of the 19th century, during the construction of a road in the south of France—the item took experts by surprise to the point that many scholars believed for years that it was a forgery.

According to archaeologist Paul Bahn, the head is “unsexed, although it is usually called a ‘Venus’ or a ‘lady'”

 

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Interestingly, experts have come to the conclusion that although the style of representation is essentially realistic, the proportions of the head do not correspond exactly to any known human population of the present or past.

The discoverers of the fragmentary figurine, as well as numerous authors, suggest the enigmatic statue has an ancient Egyptian resemblance.

Thanks to the technological advancements in recent years, experts have been able to successfully verify the authenticity of the item.

Randall White observed in the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory (December 2006):

“The figurines emerged from the ground into a colonial intellectual and socio-political context nearly obsessed with matters of race.”

Experts argue that the Venus of Brassempouy is more or less contemporary with the other Palaeolithic Venus figurines, such as those of Lespugue, Dolní Věstonice, Willendorf, etc.

However, experts note that it is distinguished among the group by the realistic character of the representation.

The Venus of Brassempouy is housed at the Musee d’Archeologie Nationale near Paris and is usually accessible to the public only during short temporary exhibitions of Stone Age art.

 


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5 Comments

  1. I wonder how they determined how old it is, since it was found in a cave (not dug up in strata that could be dated) over 100 years ago. And stone cannot be carbon dated.

  2. “the proportions of the head do not correspond exactly to any known human population of the present or past.”

    The figure may represent a modern and neanderthal hybrid – albeit, one with a lot more than the four percent neanderthal genes that some of us have.

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