Venus of Laussel

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Venus of Laussel
Tablet on display in the British Museum
SizeHeight: 46 cm
Created25,000 years
Marquay, Dordogne, France
Discovered byJean-Gaston Lalanne
Present locationMusée d'Aquitaine, Bordeaux, France

The Venus of Laussel is an 18.11-inch-high (46.0-centimetre) limestone bas-relief of a nude woman. It is painted with red ochre and was carved into the limestone of a rock shelter (Abri de Laussel) in the commune of Marquay, in the Dordogne department of south-western France. The carving is associated with the Gravettian Upper Paleolithic culture (approximately 25,000 years old). It is currently displayed in the Musée d'Aquitaine in Bordeaux, France.

Detail of the head.
Detail of the right arm and the horn.
Detail of the left arm and hand.


The figure holds a bison horn, or possibly a cornucopia, in one hand, which has thirteen notches. She has large breasts, a great stomach, and wide hips. There is a "Y" on her thigh and her faceless head is turned toward the horn. The lower relief was covered in red ochre.[1]

Discovery and display[edit]

The relief was discovered in 1911 by Jean-Gaston Lalanne, a physician. It was carved into large block of limestone in a rock shelter (abri de Laussel) at the commune of Marquay in the Dordogne department of south-western France. The limestone block fell off the wall of the shelter. It was brought to the Musée d'Aquitaine in Bordeaux, France.


The figure and the horn are considered significant in figurative studies of Paleolithic art. There are many similarly formed "goddess figures", such as Venus of Willendorf, said to be of potential significance in Eurasian prehistoric religion.[2][3][4][5] The color and the number of notches on the horn may symbolize the number of moons or the number of menstrual cycles in one year, or the number of days from menstruation to ovulation.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Thompson, William Irwin. (1981). The time falling bodies take to light : mythology, sexuality, and the origins of culture. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 105. ISBN 0-312-80510-1. OCLC 6890108.
  2. ^ Hayden, Brian (17 December 2003). "Complexity in the Hunter-Gatherer World". Shamans, Sorcerers, and Saints: A Prehistory of Religion. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Books. pp. 153–155. ISBN 9781588341686.
  3. ^ Soffer O, Adovasio JM, Hyland DC (2000). "The "Venus" Figurines: Textiles, Basketry, Gender, and Status in the Upper Paleolithic". Current Anthropology. 41 (4): 511–537. doi:10.1086/317381. S2CID 162026727.
  4. ^ Eisler, Riane Tennenhaus (1987). The chalice and the blade : our history, our future (1st ed.). Cambridge [Mass.]: Harper & Row. p. 5. ISBN 0-06-250287-5. OCLC 15222627.
  5. ^ Neumann, Erich (4 May 2015). The Great Mother : an analysis of the archetype. Manheim, Ralph, 1907-1992 (First Princeton classics ed.). Princeton, New Jersey. ISBN 978-1-4008-6610-6. OCLC 908042725.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)

Further reading[edit]

  • Eisler, Riane (1995), Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth, and the Politics of the Body, HarperCollins Publishers Inc., NY.
  • Marshack, Alexander (1971). The Roots of Civilization, Moyer Bell Ltd, Mount Kisco, NY.

External links[edit]