Gagarino Venus FiguresGagarino is located on a loess terrace on the north lip of a ravine on the right bank of the Don River about five kilometres north of the junction of the Sosna, a tributary stream. It is north of the well known Kostienki sites. Here peasants discovered a house pit while excavating a silo trench. Unfortunately, the trench cut through the centre of the house pit along its major axis and presumably destroyed the hearth and entrance. Zamiatinine (1934) who excavated this site during 1926 - 1929, found a house pit roughly oval in outline about 5.5 metres long and 4.5 metres wide. The floor was located 40 to 60 cm below the occupational surface. The walls of the pit were lined with the long bones of rhinoceros and mammoth, including the tusks and lower jaws of the latter, as well as with sandstone slabs. The wealth of material remains found in this one house pit is seen in the recorded finds of some six hundred flint implements, over a thousand blades, and proportionately large numbers of cores and waste flints. Artefacts of bone as well as several 'venus' figurines completed the roster of non-lithic material. One date given for the site is 21 800 ± 300 BP
Text above: Daifuku (1952), White (2007)
The Gagarino Venus
Figurine of an obese woman from Gagarino, Russia. Height 5.8 cm
Photo: J Jelinek, 'The Evolution of Man'
Frontal view of the Gagarino venus.
Photo: Abramov et al. (1984)
Distribution of mobile art in Eastern Europe.
1 Staryé Duruitory, 2 Brynzeny, 3 Kosseoutzy, 4 Klimaoutzy, 5 Suren' 1, 6 Chan-Koba, 7 Apiantcha, 8 grotte d'Uvarov, 9 Sakagia, 10 Sagvardgilé, 11 Gvardgilas-Kldé, 12 Devis-Khvreli, 13 Taro-Kldé, 14 Molodova V, 15 Lissitchniki, 16 Lipa VI, 17 Klinetz, 18 Ossokorovka, 19 Dubovaya Balka, 20 Kaïstrovaya Balka, 21 Mejiritch (Mezhirich), 22 Kievo-Kirillovskaya, 23 Mézine (Mezin), 24 Novgorod Severskyi, 25 Puchkari I, 26 Dobranitchevka, 27 Gontzy, 28, Rogalik, 29 Amvrossievka, 30 Eliseevitchi I, 31 Eliseevitchi II, 32 Yudinovo, 33 Khoylevo II, 34 Timonovka, 35 Suponevo, 36 Avdeevo, 37 Sungir', 38 Gagarino, 39 Kostienki 19, 40 Kostienki 21, 41 Kostienki 13, 42 Kostienki 1, 43 Kostienki 14, 44 Kostienki 12, 45 Kostienki 17, 46 Kostienki 2, 47 Kostienki 11, 48 Kostienki 4, 49 Kostienki 15, 50 Kostienki 9, 51 Kostienki 8, 52 Borchtchevo 1, 53 Borchtchevo 2, 54 Ilskaya, 55 Murakovka, 56 Ostrovskaya, 57 Bez'imyannyi, 58 Smelobskaya, 59 Kapova, 60 Ignatievskaya.
Photo: Abramova (1995)
Стоянка Гагарино ( Липецкая область) - Gagarino Site (Lipetsk Region)
1. Статуэтка женская - female statuette
2. Статуэтка двойная - double statuette
3. Подвески из зубов песца - necklace of polar fox teeth
4. Шилья – проколки - bodkin - awl
5. Лощило - burnisher
6. Резцы - cutters
7. Скребки и сребки-резцы - scrapers and scraper - knives
8. Пластины с ретушью - blades with retouch
9. Орудия на микроплаcтинках - tools on blades
10. Нуклеусы - tool cores
11. Пластины - blades
Стоянка Костенки 1 ( Воронежская область) - Kostenki Site (Voronezh Region)
12. женская статуэтка. Копия - female statuette, copy
13. обломок статуэтки. Копия - fragment of statuette, copy
14. Скрeбки - scrapers
15. Наконечники с боковой выемкой - points with a tang for hafting
16. Листовидные наконечники - leaf-shaped points
17. Проколка - awl
18. Резцы - knives
19. Нож костёнковского типа - knife of Kostenki type
19. Пластины с ретушью - blades with retouch
Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski, 2007
Double statuette of Gagorino, 148 mm x 52 mm x 12 mm.
The unfinished nature of Palaeolithic statuettes is a widespread phenomenon. It is probable that completion of the double statuette of Gagarino was abandoned after a fracture developed during manufacture.
It is fascinating to conjecture whether there is some relationship with the double burial at Sunghir, although since it is at least 500 km distant, this is just conjecture at this point.
Photo: Tarassov (1971)
Double statuette of Gagorino, with the arrow pointing to the place it was discovered in the dig.
Photo: Tarassov (1971)
Double statuette of Gagorino.
Photo: M. G. Agaronian, Tarassov (1971)
Gagarino Double Venus, the object shown as a facsimile at the foot of the photo above.
This has been interpreted as purposeful, similar to the way that the child burials at Sunghir were head to head.
(Another possible reason for this juxtaposition is that it was a temporary, convenient connection, and that the sculpture was incomplete. It was perhaps going to be two venuses, to be separated when almost finished, and left attached in the meantime to make carving easier. Militating against this viewpoint is that not much space was left to complete the tops of the heads in a pleasing rounded manner - Don )
Gagarino site, Lipetsk region.
20 000 - 22 000 BP
The statuette on the right is of particular interest, because of the unique pose: arms on the chest and hands raised to the face in a 'prayer' gesture.
Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski, 2011
Statuette féminine de Gagarino, vue de profil. Collection MAE. Photo L.
Venus from Gagarino, in profile view.
Photo and French text: "les mammouths - Dossiers Archéologie - n° 291 - Mars 2004"
Photograph L Iakovleva.
My thanks to Anya for access to this resource.
This is a fascinating venus figure, a front view of the venus shown in profile above. It has what appears to be an item of clothing or decoration below the breasts, the functionality of which is unclear.
Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski, 2006
The Venus above, front, back, and profiles.
Photo: Abramova (1995)
I think of this as the 'tall' Gagarino venus. This venus, with relatively thin legs, is plump at the abdomen and breasts, as if carved from life.
It is very hard to get a good image of this venus, most are simply drawings, and this is obviously a facsimile. I would be grateful to get a good image of the original.
It is usually misidentified as being from Mal'ta.
White (2007) calls it Gagarino Statuette 1927c.
Size is given as 7 cm for the facsimile.
Figurine 1927c, Gagarino.
Length: 7.15 cm
Diameter: 1.35 cm
I think this is the original, since it was taken by Randall White.
I am still looking for a large, high quality image of this venus.
Photo: White (2007)
Note the close similarity of the 'tall' Gagarino lvenus to the Avdeevo venus shown here.
It could easily have been done by the same artist.
This figurine No. 5 (Old Avdeevo Avd-St 49) was found in fragments in the wall of a pit. It is 160 mm long, 30 mm wide, and only 11 mm thick. The buttocks and the lower portion of the legs are missing. The figurine is completely smoothed and finished.
It is very flat and all volumes are rendered in low relief. The upper torso is very elongated. A rounded head with a protruding facial area is disproportionately small. Narrow drooping shoulders and arms are shown only by a cut in both shoulders. Sagging, teardrop-shaped breasts descend to a rounded, flat abdomen, which turns into the pubic triangle.
The maximum width of the figurine occurs at the upper portion of the pelvis. Long slender legs are rendered separately above the knee. The outer leg contour is X-shaped. The feet were probably rendered separately. The slope of the back is slightly convex. The figurine represents a tall, slender, mature, but not pregnant woman.
Gagarino differs from typical Kostienki assemblages by:
* The composition of different tools
* The structure of the living space
* Stylistic details relating to female statuettes
* Bone fasteners and a biconical perforation technique which is unknown to Kostienki 1 (I) and Avdeevo.
The most specific features of the Gagarino lithic assemblage are that the proportions of tanged points are different from that of Avdeevo and Kostienki 1, there are particular forms of tanged points and Kostienki knives.
A series of eight dates were obtained, of which two are most likely: 21 600 ± 140 BP and 21 800 ± 300 BP.
Photo and text: Sinitsyn (2007)
Plan and profile of the habitation at Gagarino.
Disposition of the statuettes:
A. cat. 38, 1
B. cat. 38, 2
C. cat. 38, 3
D. cat. 38, 4
E. cat. 38, 5
F. cat. 38, 6
G. cat. 38, 9
H. cat. 38, 11
I. cat. 38, 14
Photo: Abramova (1995) after Tarassov (1979), fig. 27.
Zoya A. Abramova.
Photo: Abramova (1995)
Plan of Gagarino-on-Don.
Black dots represent positions of Venus figures.
This diagram shows clearly the trench cut by the peasants who found the site while digging a silo trench, a technique for storing fermented feed known as silage.
Photo: Zamjatnin (1934)
Profile of Gagarino-on-Don.
Photo: Zamjatnin (1934)
Орудия на микроплаcтинках
Gagarino tools on blades. Note especially the shouldered points in the bottom row, knapped so that they can be hafted to form a knife, as at Kostenki, which has a very similar toolkit.
Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski 2008
Source: Voronezh Museum.
This shows the classic shouldered point, or point with tang, with a handle attached, as used at Kostenki. The tools are razor sharp, and very effective.
This recreation shows the handle being made of leather wrapped around the tang. Other methods would include the use of bone or antler as a handle.
Source: Kostenki Museum.
- Abramov A., Anikovich M., Bader N., Boriskovsky P., Lubin V., Praslin N., Rogachev A., А. АБРАМОВА, М. В. АНИКОВИЧ, Н. О. БАДЕР, П. И. БОРИСКОВСКИЙ, В. П. ЛЮБИН, Н. Д. ПРАСЛОВ, А. Н. РОГАЧЕВ, 1984: Archaeology of the USSR. 1984, Nauka, Moscow, 1984
- Abramova Z., 1962: L'Art paléolithique sur le territoire de l'URSS. , Moscou-Léningrad: Académie des Sciences (en russe).
- Abramova Z., 1962b: Paleolitičeskoe iskusstvo na territorii SSSR, Moskva : Akad. Nauk SSSR, Inst. Archeologii, 1962 (probably the same book as above - Don )
- Abramova Z., 1995: L'Art paléolithique d'Europe orientale et de Sibérie., Grenoble: Jérôme Millon.
- Daifuku H., 1952: The pit house in the old world and in native north america, American Antiquity, Vol XVIII, No 1, July, 1952
- Tarassov L., 1965: La Station paléolithique de Gagarino, Moscou-Leningrad: Materialii Issledovania, t. 131 (en russe).
- Tarassov L., 1971: La double statuette paléolithique de GagarinoQuärtar , 157-63.
- Tarassov L., 1979: Le site de Gagarino et sa place dans le Paléolithique de l'Europe, Leningrad: Académie des Sciences (en russe).
- Tarassov L., 1995: Les statuettes féminines de Gagarino, ERAUL, 74, ISSN 0773-2173. p. 239-247
- White R., 2007: Technological Observations On The "Double Statuette" From Gagarino, http://www.insticeagestudies.com/library/double-statuette-from-gagarino/ Dec 23, 2007
- Zamjatnin S., 1934: La station aurignacienne de Gagarino et les données nouvelles qu’elles fournit sur les rites magiques des chasseurs quaternaires., Les Éditions d’État, section social et économique, Moscou-Leningrad.