Archeologist speaks on Venus figurines at CSU Friday

Kodi Hays

An archeologist from the University of Victoria presented a speech in the Behavioral Sciences Building on Friday about the discovery of 35,000 year old Venus figurines in the year 1800.

Dr. April Nowell gave a speech Friday about the different interpretations of Prehistoric figurines.
Dr. April Nowell gave a speech Friday about the different interpretations of Prehistoric figurines.

Venus figurines, which scientists claim to be prehistoric “pin-up” dolls,  date back to the upper Paleolithic age of humans and have been found in numerous parts of the world. Over 200 artifacts have been found, and their dates range to 40,000-9000 B.C.E.


Professor April Nowell’s discussed the “Venus Hypothesis,” which is the idea that all Paleolithic figurines are better known as sex objects.

She explained that all archeologists know about the figurines are based solely on assumptions and some speculate that the true reason behind the dolls’ existence will never be discovered.

Around the world there are differences in the sizes and shapes of Venus figurines. Nowell showed a graph depicting the different waist-hip ratio sizes of the women, all of which were different depending on the location. Waist and hip sizes are an important detail, according to Nowell, because they are seen as fertility and long term health. Because the waist sizes don’t match up, it can either argue that different cultures admired women differently, or that the figures were not made based on sexual appeal as a whole.

Nowell also discussed how the figurines could have been made in celebration of women’s sexuality. In modern society, a naked figure might be viewed as a “sexual stimulant” and “inappropriate” or “erotic.” In Paleolithic times, a women’s body was natural, uncovered and could have been celebrated in art. There are scientists and anthropologists that have suggested that in some or most Paleolithic societies women were seen as more important that men, which might be why most Paleolithic art depicts women rather than men.

Dr. Nowell’s speech explained that the way archeologists interpret Paleolithic art from 40,000 years ago says just as much about modern society as the ancients.

Collegian Reporter Kodi Hays can be reached at or on Twitter @KodiHays.