Answers about the origin of the 30,000-year-old Venus.

Mysterious figurine of Venus. The Venus of Willendorf is a 4.4-inch statue of Venus, found in 1908 at a Paleolithic site near Willendorf, a village in Lower Austria.

Study this statue.

Recently, the University of Vienna in collaboration with Vienna’s Museum of Natural History published the results of researchers who applied high-resolution tomography, showing that Venus originated from a region in northern Italy.


Anthropologist Gerhard Weber from the University of Vienna used computed tomography to analyze Venus with a resolution of up to 11.5 micrometers. Together with Alexander Lukeneder and Mathias Harzhauser from the Natural History Museum in Vienna, the team purchased comparative samples from Austria and Europe for comparison to determine geological origin.

Composition of the statue of Venus.

The study shows that the tomographic data from Venus have sediments deposited in the rock of varying densities and sizes. In the middle are always small pieces of shell remnants and six very thick, larger seeds, called limonites. Weber explains the previously mysterious hemispherical depressions on Venus’s surface with the same diameter: “The hard limonites probably broke off when Venus’s creator was carving,” explains Weber: “In the case of the navel of Venus, they seem to have created an unnecessary virtue.”


It was discovered that Venus oolite is porous because the core of the millions of spheres (ooides) that make it up has been dissolved. A closer analysis also identified a small shell remnant, only 2.5 mm long, dating from the Jurassic period. This excluded all other potential deposits of the rock from the much later Miocene geological era, such as in the nearby Vienna Basin.

An analysis of the grain sizes of other samples revealed that samples from Venus were statistically indistinguishable from those from a site in northern Italy near Lake Garda. This is extremely interesting because it means that Venus (or at least its matter) has begun a journey from the south of the Alps to the Danube in the north of the Alps.

The people of Gravettian – the instrumental culture of the time – sought and lived in favorable locations. As the climate or hunting situation changes, they move, preferably along rivers, explains Gerhard Weber.

One of two possible south-to-north routes would lead around the Alps and into the Pannonian Plain and was described by other researchers in simulations several years ago. The other way to get from Lake Garda to Wachau would be through the Alps.

Whether this was possible more than 30,000 years ago remains unclear given the climate degradation that began at that time. A rather unlikely variant if there were already continuous glaciers at the time. The 730 km road along the Etsch, Inn and Danube rivers is always below 1,000 m above sea level, with the exception of 35 km in Lake Reschen.

May be less likely to connect to eastern Ukraine.

The statistics clearly show that northern Italy is the source of Venus oolite. However, there is another interesting place about the origin of the rock. It is located in eastern Ukraine, more than 1,600 km when the crow flies from Willendorf.

The patterns there don’t match as clearly as those from Italy, but better than all the others in the pattern. An interesting connection here: Venus formations found in nearby southern Russia are somewhat younger, but look very similar to Venus found in Austria. Genetic results also show that people in Central and Eastern Europe were connected at this time.

The interesting story of Venus in Lower Austria can be continued. To date, only a few systematic studies have addressed the existence of early humans in this time frame in the Alpine region and their mobility. For example, the famous “Ötzi” appeared only much later, namely 5,300 years ago. Weber concludes: “Using these Venusian results and our new research network in Human Evolution and Archaeological Science, we wanted to further elucidate the early history of the region. Alpine with collaborations of anthropology, archaeology and other disciplines.”

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