New research method shows that the material likely comes from northern Italy — ScienceDaily


The virtually 11 cm excessive figurine from Willendorf is without doubt one of the most vital examples of early artwork in Europe. It’s product of a rock referred to as “oolite” which isn’t present in or round Willendorf. A analysis staff led by the anthropologist Gerhard Weber from the College of Vienna and the 2 geologists Alexander Lukeneder and Mathias Harzhauser in addition to the prehistorian Walpurga Antl-Weiser from the Pure Historical past Museum Vienna have now came upon with the assistance of high-resolution tomographic photos that the fabric from which the Venus was carved probably comes from northern Italy. This sheds new mild on the exceptional mobility of the primary trendy people south and north of the Alps. The outcomes at present seem in Scientific Studies.

The Venus von Willendorf just isn’t solely particular by way of its design, but in addition by way of its materials. Whereas different Venus figures are normally product of ivory or bone, generally additionally of various stones, oolite was used for the Decrease Austrian Venus, which is exclusive for such cult objects. The figurine discovered within the Wachau in 1908 and on show within the Pure Historical past Museum in Vienna has thus far solely been examined from the surface. Now, greater than a 100 years later, anthropologist Gerhard Weber from the College of Vienna has used a brand new methodology to look at its inside: micro-computed tomography. Throughout a number of passes, the scientists obtained photos with a decision of as much as 11.5 micrometres — a top quality that’s in any other case solely seen beneath a microscope. The primary perception gained is: “Venus doesn’t look uniform in any respect on the within. A particular property that could possibly be used to find out its origin,” says the anthropologist.

Together with the 2 geologists Alexander Lukeneder and Mathias Harzhauser from the Pure Historical past Museum in Vienna, who had beforehand labored with oolites, the staff procured comparative samples from Austria and Europe and evaluated them. A fancy venture: Rock samples from France to japanese Ukraine, from Germany to Sicily had been obtained, sawn up and examined beneath a microscope. The staff was supported by the state of Decrease Austria, which supplied funds for the time-consuming analyses.

The within additionally provides details about the surface

The tomographic knowledge from the Venus confirmed that the sediments had been deposited within the rocks in several densities and sizes. In between there have been additionally small remnants of shells and 6 very dense, bigger grains, so-called limonites. The latter explains the beforehand mysterious hemispherical cavities on the floor of Venus with the identical diameter: “The laborious limonites most likely broke out when the creator of the Venus was carving it,” explains Weber: “Within the case of the Venus navel, he then apparently made it a advantage out of necessity.”

One other discovering: The Venus oolite is porous as a result of the cores of the thousands and thousands of globules (ooides) of which it’s comprised had dissolved. This can be a nice clarification for why the resourceful sculptor selected this materials 30,000 years in the past: It’s a lot simpler to work with. The scientists additionally recognized a tiny shell remnant, simply 2.5 millimetres lengthy, and dated it to the Jurassic interval. This dominated out all different potential deposits of the rock from the a lot later Miocene geological period, comparable to these within the close by Vienna Basin.

A great distance for that point

The analysis staff additionally analysed the grain sizes of the opposite samples. Tons of, generally even hundreds of grains had been marked and measured with picture processing applications and even manually. Not one of the samples inside a 200-kilometer radius of Willendorf even remotely matched. The evaluation lastly confirmed that the samples from the Venus had been statistically indistinguishable from samples from a location in northern Italy close to Lake Garda. That is exceptional as a result of it implies that the Venus (or at the very least its materials) began a journey from south of the Alps to the Danube north of the Alps.

“Folks within the Gravettian — the software tradition of the time — appeared for and inhabited beneficial areas. When the local weather or the prey state of affairs modified, they moved on, ideally alongside rivers,” explains Gerhard Weber. Such a journey might have taken generations.

One of many two doable routes from the south to the north would lead across the Alps and into the Pannonian Plain and was described in simulations by different researchers a couple of years in the past. The opposite strategy to get from Lake Garda to the Wachau can be by way of the Alps. Whether or not this was doable greater than 30,000 years in the past is unclear as a result of local weather deterioration that started at the moment. This may be a moderately unbelievable variant if there had already been steady glaciers at the moment. Nevertheless, the 730 km lengthy path alongside the Etsch, the Inn and the Danube had at all times been beneath 1,000 meters above sea stage, excluding 35 kilometres at Lake Reschen.

Doable, however much less probably, connection to japanese Ukraine

The statistics clearly level to northern Italy because the origin of the Venus oolite. However, there may be one other fascinating place for the origin of the rock. It’s in japanese Ukraine, greater than 1,600 kilometres linear distance from Willendorf. The samples there don’t match as clearly as these from Italy, however higher than all the remainder of the pattern. An fascinating connection right here: Venus figures had been present in close by southern Russia, that are considerably youthful, however look similar to the Venus present in Austria. Genetic outcomes additionally present that individuals in Central and Japanese Europe had been related to at least one one other right now.

The thrilling story of the Decrease Austrian Venus could possibly be continued. Only some systematic research have thus far handled the existence of early people on this timeframe within the Alpine area, and with their mobility. The well-known “Ötzi,” for instance, solely comes into play a lot later, particularly 5,300 years in the past. “We need to use these Venus outcomes and our new Vienna analysis community “Human Evolution and Archaeological Sciences,” in cooperation with anthropology, archaeology and different disciplines, to additional make clear early historical past within the Alpine area,” concludes Weber.

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