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Light is being cast on the origins of a 30,000-year-old sculpture by new information. The 4.4-inch-tall Venus of Willendorf carving was found in Willendorf, Austria, and is named for the town where it was created, sometime between 30,000 and 25,000 BCE. Its construction, however, was obscured for years by the fact that the stone it is made of is not found in the region. Researchers now think they have the answer to the statue's past, having identified the distinctive rock as being in northern Italy.

Venus figurines are tiny sculptures from the Upper Paleolithic period that depict female forms. It is widely accepted that they performed ritualistic functions and honoured concepts associated with fertility, such as eroticism, femininity, and goddesses. The Venus of Willendorf stood out from the other discovered Venus figurines because it was made of oolite, a rock that was not found in the vicinity of the figurine's discovery site in Austria. 

Finally, the origins could be traced to an area in northern Italy above Lake Garda thanks to high-resolution images of the statuette's material. Prehistorian Walpurga Antl-Weiser of the Natural History Museum of Vienna, geologists Alexander Lukeneder and Mathias Harzhauser, and an anthropology team from the University of Vienna determined this discovery. Thousands of samples were compared to the sculpture's unique topographical data until a match was discovered in the northern region of Italy.

This discovery also begs the question of how the sculpture got to Austria. It's possible that the piece was carried by the people as they travelled over the terrain. "Those who lived in the Gravettian, the era's tool culture, sought out and settled in advantageous areas. Anthropologist Gerhard Weber says, "They moved on, preferably along rivers, when the climate or the prey situation changed."

There is enough evidence to suggest that the Venus of Willendorf could have originated in eastern Ukraine, even though the data points to a connection with northern Italy. That being said, the vast distance of nearly a thousand miles makes this scenario less likely. 

Article Tags: Viral Statue Figure Mystery

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