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VENUS of Willendorf

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

27.150 - 26.850 BCE Austria, Willendorf

Venus of Willendorf

  • she is the world's most famous Venus figurine

  • seize: 11 cm

  • carved from oolithe stone

  • found in Lower Austria in 1908, it is now in the today in the Natural History Museum in Vienna as Austria's best-known archaeological find.

  • she was fully covered in red ochre, which an archaeologist accidentally washed off

  • her arms are indicated above her breasts, bangles can be seen at the arm joints

  • there's a museum in Willendorf dedicated to her: the Venusium

Head piece

Some assume that the Venus of Willendorf wears braided plaits, others point to a crocheted or woven hat that she wears pulled low over her face. There are already records of woven textile art from this period. Basketry is also possible.


A team of researchers led by the anthropologist Gerhard Weber of the University of Vienna made micro-drillings into the interior of the Venus and, with the help of tomographic images, had been able to find out that the material from which the Venus was made probably came from Lake Garda. This means that the figurine must have been made in Italy and then brought to Austria in the course of a migration - a very long distance by the standards of the time!

'People in the Gravettian time period looked for and inhabited favorable locations. When the climate or the prey situation changed, they moved on, preferably along rivers. Such a journey could have taken generations.

Special features

The tomographic data from Venus showed that it also contains remnants of shells and six very dense, larger grains called limonites. This explains the mysterious cavities on the surface with the same diameter: "The hard limonites probably broke out when the creator of Venus carved them," Weber explains.

What is also special about the material is that it is limestone, whereas other Venus figurines were often made of bone and ivory. Limestone was very rarely used, but it was probably easier to work with.

Location Willendorf

The area around the left bank of the Danube between Aggsbach and Krems was an important habitat for ice age people living in the east of what is now Austria. For example Nussberg, the hill to the west, sheltered the settlement near Willendorf from westerly winds. From very early on, the Danube connected eastern and western Europe and was of particular significance for cultural contacts and the ongoing development of Palaeolithic cultures.


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