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12 December 2014
23,000-year-old 'Venus' statuette dug up in France

A 23,000-year-old limestone statue of a woman with large breasts and buttocks has been discovered in a small heap of rocks during the second day of a dig at a Palaeolithic site in Renancourt, west of Amiens in northern France, archaeologists piecing together more than 20 fragments to reveal a 12 centimetre long statuette that matches the characteristics of so called 'Venus' figurines.
     The Venus of Renancourt does not have any hands or feet, and the head is virtually featureless, much like other similar Venus statues.
     Venus figurines are usually carved from bone, ivory, or a soft stone such as limestone. Some examples have also been shaped from clay. Around 100 such figures have been found in Europe, mostly in settlements in caves or open air sites around Russia and central Europe. They all depict curvaceous women with large breasts, bottoms, abdomens, hips and thighs, while their heads are often small and usually faceless.
     There have been many attempts to explain what their importance was to the prehistoric cultures who made them. Some appear to represent pregnant women.
     Experts have described this statue as 'exceptional' - one of only 15 similar figures to be found in France, and the first in around 50 years. It is likely to be prized among the country's most precious relics.
     The oldest Venus statue was uncovered in 2008 in Germany. Known as the 'Venus of Hohle Fels', it was carved from a mammoth's tusk and is thought to be at least 35,000 years old.
     The discovery of a Venus in northern France is seen as being particularly unusual as most of the Venus figures found in the country so far have been in the south west.

Edited from PhysOrg (27 November 2014) Mail Online (1 December 2014)

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