A Tribute to Mothers, 30,000 BCE

The Venus of Willendorf, Oolite limestone. Height:11.1 cm (4 3/8 in), Natural History Museum, Vienna

This monumentally important figure, widely known as the Venus of Willendorf, depicts a voluptuous woman with huge breasts and hips. It was discovered in 1908 near Willendorf, a town in northeast Austria and is now housed in the Natural History Museum in Vienna. The figure dates to around 30,000 BCE, making it among the oldest female sculpture in human history. Very little is known about the Venus‘ origin or purpose, though its voluptuous shape, emphasized by the prominent breasts and hips, suggests that it is a fertility fetish, or an idol of a mother goddess. Appropriately, the figure is carved from oolite, a grainy sedimentary rock whose name is derived from ancient Greek word for egg.

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