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VENUS of Laussel

Aktualisiert: 16. Aug. 2023

18.000 to 20.000 BCE, France

Venus of Laussel

  • also: „Venus with Horn“

  • seize: 46cm

  • place of discovery: 1911 as a part of the mountain Abri of Laussel in the Dordogne

  • she was carved in limestone, the relief then cut out of the rock face

  • dated back to the Gravettian archaeological culture

  • specifity: although she shares many features with other Venus figurines, she is unique as a rare specimen of prehistoric bas-relief


  • she holds a crescent horn in her right hand, possibly a bison horn, or a cornucopia

  • it has 13 notches, according to some researchers, this may symbolize the number of moons or menstrual cycles in one year.

  • as often with Venus figurines, the head is portrayed faceless, which leads us away form the individual to the collective

  • breasts, belly and thighs on the other hand are accentuated and her left arm rests on her belly which so often is associated with a cult of fertility

  • originally painted with red ochre, which points to menstrual bleeding

  • a Y is ingraved in the right thigh

Time recording through 13 Moons

Venus von Laussell holds a crescent horn, notched 13 times, the same number of moons in a lunar year. According to some researchers, this may symbolize the number of moons or menstrual cycles in one year.

This could therefore be a representation of the first reckoning of time. The knowledge of how to count the duration of a pregnancy using the cycles of the moon would be invaluable to Paleo women bc it could facilitate planning and survival during the arduous journey of child birth.


The representation belongs thematically and chronologically to the Venus figurines, but in contrast to these she is not an Upper Paleolithic small work of art but a half relief carved into lime rock.

The relief was located on a boulder of several cubic meters in size, which had broken out of the roof of the Abris. Four other reliefs were found in the immediate vicinity. Because of the close proximity of the five reliefs, this site has been interpreted as a type of cella, a ceremonial site.

The sculpture has been carved in bas-relief into a section of the wall with a swelling at the region of the sculpture's abdomen.

For comparison

For comparison: one of the four other reliefs on the same site we have the Venus of Berlin. This relief was sold to the Ethnological Museum in Berlin but was

lost during World War II.

A relatively poor copy of it is in the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte in Berlin, while the best surviving copy is displayed in the Ur- und Frühgeschichtliche Sammlung of the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg.

Venus of Berlin (copy), Museum of Prehistory and Early History, Berlin


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