Image: The Venus of Dolni Vestonice

The Venus of Dolni Vestonice

A cast of the original ceramic statuette, known as the Venus of Dolni Vestonice, from the Palaeolithic site of Dolni Vestonice in Moravia, Czech Republic. 

Stan Florek
© Australian Museum


The Venus of Dolni Vestonice is a cast of the original ceramic statuette and it depicts a nude female with an accentuated figure. It was found at the Palaeolithic site of Dolni Vestonice in the Moravian basin south of Brno. This archaeological site was first excavated by Karel Absolon in the Czech Republic and has been worked on since 1924. Many other figures have been discovered that include a bear, lion, mammoth, horse, fox, rhinoceros and owl.

The Venus of Dolni Vestonice dates to between 29 000BP – 25 000BP and it is the oldest known example of ceramic in the world. It was discovered on the 13th of July 1925 in a layer of ash on the floor of a hut. This hut also contained one of the earliest known examples of a kiln and it was surrounded by numerous other figures and fragments of ceramic. The body of the Venus of Dolni Vestonice is made of clay mixed with powdered bone and it was fired at a relatively low temperature of about 700°C.

A tomograph scan in 2004 revealed the fingerprint of a child aged between 7 and 15 fired into the clay, though it is unlikely to be that of the maker. The accentuated nature of the figure has had many interpretations, though the most common are that it is a pregnant woman, or a woman who shows sign of childbearing and obesity. The figurine has also been suggested to represent a 'goddess' or fertility.

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