The Venus of Willendorf Came from Italy, New Study Solves Mystery

The Venus of Willendorf Came from Italy, New Study Solves Mystery

The Venus of Willendorf is arguably the most famous Ice Age creation in the world. Although she was only one of the numerous images carved in the same manner roughly 30,000 years ago across Europe, she has come to represent all of them. Her origins, however, remain uncertain; while she was called for the location where she was discovered, the granite from which she was cut is not native to the area. 

That particular rock has now been recognized. During the process, some information regarding the figurine’s design was released. Venus is formed of oolite rock. Willendorf, Austria, had no oolite deposits nearby, therefore she had traveled a long distance at a time when all travel was done on foot. For over a century, though, anthropologists had no means of knowing how far she had progressed.

In a research published in Scientific Reports, a group of geologists and anthropologists found that the Venus is probably definitely constructed of northern Italian oolites. In other words, she was not only carried 400 kilometers (249 miles) as the crow flies, but she was also carried across Western Europe’s tallest mountains, making for a far longer voyage around.

Examining Venus’s internal organs allowed for the finding. Dr. Gerhard Weber of the University of Vienna and co-authors employed a type of X-Ray compilation known as micro-computed tomography to open up such a precious artifact, which would be impossible for any scientist to open up. This allowed them to observe the inside of Venus as clearly as if they had brought a microscope inside.

In a statement, Weber stated, “Venus does not appear uniform on the interior at all, which is a unique trait that might be utilized to establish its origin.” Within the stone, tomography showed the remains of Jurassic shells, as well as a few bigger, highly thick grains known as limonites.

The researchers then collected oolites from all around Europe and sliced them open to analyze under microscopes, something they couldn’t accomplish with the Venus. The Venus could not have come from the nearby oolite deposits because of the grain sizes, but it was a perfect match for those from Lake Garda, Italy. 

Crossing the Alps would be tough at any time, but it would be nearly impossible when the final glacier approached its apex. Venus was most likely carried in a broad arc around the Alps, following river valleys and Adriatic beaches for the most part.

Only another oolite from eastern Ukraine, 1,600 kilometers (994 miles) distant, comes close to matching it. As symbolic as such a voyage would be at this time, demonstrating Ukraine’s longstanding European ties, the authors believe it is improbable. What we don’t know is whether the Venus traveled quickly to the location where she was discovered, maybe as part of a series of exchanges, or whether she was brought along on a multi-generational migration.

Although many of the Venus of Willendorf’s huge breasts, buttocks, and thighs are replicated in other sculptures known as Venuses, her composition is unique. Other known instances include those made of ivory or bone, as well as a handful made of stones other than oolites. 

Venus was discovered with two ivory statues. The decision, on the other hand, makes logic. Venus is composed of porous oolite, which makes it comparatively easy to carve compared to other rocks. The investigators also came to the conclusion that the hemispherical chambers on Venus’s neckline and right leg were left behind by dissolved shell pieces, rather than being created on purpose, as some have argued. Other holes are most likely the result of limonites breaking off, one of which was expanded to produce the navel.