Sex: Inspiring Ivory Sculptures Since 35,000 years ago

Archaeologists in Germany have discovered the oldest known sculpture: a small ivory figure with no head or feet and very large breasts. It’s believed to be 35,000 years old, which argues that humans had developed a capacity for abstract thinking and creating symbols at an extremely early point in human history. When asked about the motivation for creating this piece, ” ‘It’s very sexually charged,’ said University of Tuebingen archaeologist Nicholas Conard, whose team discovered the figure in September.”

What was the impetus for this first sculpture? That’s anybody’s guess, and opinions range between fertility object or some sort of goddess worship. According to at least one archeologist, the reason humans first created a sculpture was sex, pure and simple. “These people were obsessed with sex.”

The figure bears this out: it’s feet didn’t break off–nor did its head. Similar sculptures of naked women without head or feet were made in the region at much later periods. An archaeologist from the University of Cambridge argued that “We now have evidence of that sort of artistic tradition of Venus figurines going back 6,000 years earlier than anybody ever guessed.” This figure changes both the estimated development of humans at this point in time and the context and meaning of the earliest art made.

Who knew sex was the thing that inspired us to crawl out of the primordial ooze?

3 thoughts on “Sex: Inspiring Ivory Sculptures Since 35,000 years ago

  1. I was also fascinated with the discovery of this little marvel. It is puzzling that given the difficulty of foraging for food that this venus doesn’t more closely resemble our current supermodels.

  2. Hey, Bill, think ‘Rubenesque’– this lovely model was perhaps (in the carvers mind) the ideal of her time. A womanly figure with enough padding to get through a long, cold winter, perhaps?

    Art Ravels, Thank you for posting this… a different photo was in our local paper and it has been quite the topic of conversation. As to the statement, ‘They were obsessed with sex’, doesn’t that seem to be leading the witness a bit? More like obsessed with survival, as in the species. Not that they didn’t enjoy a bit of the old (what did Monty Python call it?)…slap and tickle…?

    I love to see the beginnings of art reach even further into the past!

  3. It seems the feminine ideal of beauty is the opposite of whatever is prevalent in society: they struggled to survive and loved the Rubinesque look. We struggle not to be obese and love the supermodel look. Or, as r garriott sensibly points out, whatever it best in terms of survival of the species.

    Yes, the statement was leading :)…I love the idea of the archeologist gettting so excited he makes such an unscientific pronouncement.

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