First Sculpture

Considered to be the first sculpture ever found. The Venus of Brassempouy was carved from mammoth ivory. She is 36.5 mm high, 22 mm deep and 19 mm wide. Her face is triangular and seems tranquil.

While forehead, nose and brows are carved in relief, the mouth is absent. A vertical crack on the right side of the face is linked to the internal structure of the ivory. On the head is a checkerboard-like pattern formed by two series of shallow incisions at right angles to each other; it has been interpreted as a wig, a hood, or simply a representation of hair. Although the head was discovered so early that its context could not be studied thoroughly, scholars agree that the Venus of Brassempouy belonged to an Upper Palaeolithic material culture, the Gravettian (29 000 – 22 000 BP). More precisely, they place the figurine in the Middle Gravettian, with ‘Noailles’ burins circa 26 000 to 24 000 BP. She is more or less contemporary with the other Palaeolithic Venus figurines, such as those of Lespugue, Dolní V’stonice, Willendorf, etc. Nonetheless, she is distinguished among the group by the realistic character of the representation.

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