The Venus of Věstonice

This is a plaster cast copy of the 'Venus of Dolní Věstonice', a Palaeolithic female figure made from a mixture of charred powdered bone and clay. The original is approximately 30,000 years old, making it one of the earliest known manmade ceramic objects.

Many, but not all, Venus figurines accentuate the key physical characteristics of the female form, such as the breasts, abdomen and hips, while the head, arms, legs and feet are minimally produced or absent altogether. The use of these figures is unknown, though it has been suggested that they may have served a symbolic or ritual purpose.

A number of casts have been made of the original figure. Our plaster cast copy was donated by Karel Absolon, who excavated the original figure in a mammoth hunter’s dwelling site in Dolní Věstonice near Brno, Czech Republic in 1925. It was part of the teaching collection used by Derek Roe, Professor of Palaeolithic Archaeology at the University of Oxford in the 1990s. The original figure is kept at the Moravské zemské muzeum in Brno and is rarely seen by the public.

Donated by Karel Absolon in 1931.

Accession number: 1931.43.1