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Kostenki
Kostenki on the Don River is a very important Paleolithic site. It was a settlement which contained venus figures, dwellings made of mammoth bones, and many flint tools and bone implements.



Venus figures from the Kostenki - Borshevo region on the Don River

Kostienki and  venus

Photomontage of an important Kostenki Venus, diadem, and the Don River in the Kostenki region

Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski



Kostenki is a very important Paleolithic site on the Don River in the Ukraine. It was a settlement which contained venus figures, dwellings made of mammoth bones, and many flint tools and bone implements. Kostenki / Kostienki is not actually a single site but really an area on the right bank of the Don River in the regions of the villages of Kostenki and Borshevo, consisting of more than twenty site locations, all dating to the Paleolithic.



Kostienki  venus



The Kostienki limestone venus.

Found at the Russian site of Kostenki in 1988, this is by far the biggest such object known from the ice age. The height of the surviving fragment is 13.5 cm (5.5 inches) It is noteworthy not only for its massive size and the prominent navel, but also for the bracelets on the wrists, which appear to be joined together at the front like a pair of handcuffs.

Photo: P. Bahn, 'Prehistoric Art'







Kostienki  venus front Kostienki  venus rear



The Kostienki limestone venus.

Photo: Cohen (2003)





kostienki Venus front
kostienki Venus side
kostienki Venus back

Kostienki Venus front.
Kostienki Venus side.
Kostienki Venus back.

This Venus figure from Kostienki 1, catalogued as number 3 by Abramova (1962), made of mammoth bone, shows the characteristic pregnancy, well developed buttocks and pendulous breasts of many such statues. In the rear view she can be seen to be wearing a fringe or girdle.
Photo: G. Clark, 'The Stone Age Hunters'


kostenki venus figure



The Venus of Kostienki 1, catalogue number 3, is one of the most well-known Venuses of the world, created 24 500 - 21 500 BP

It has never been seen outside of Russia. This is a very high quality facsimile.

Photo: LWL/Egbert.

Source and text: http://www.lwl.org/pressemitteilungen/mitteilung.php?urlID=16067#.Us96qmQyFO0




kostenki venus figures kostenki venus figures





Venus figure, another version of the one above.

Note that the head, apparently found separately, has been attached at a different angle.

Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski 2008

Source: Facsimile, Voronezh Museum.




kostenki venus figure





This photo of the original is catalogued as Kostenki 1, Venus figure number 3 by Abramova (1962)

(Note the hole between the ankles which could have been used to thread a cord through to make a pendant - Don )

Photo: Abramova (1962)




kostenki venus figure





This photo of the original as seen in the upper drawing in the image below, is catalogued as Kostenki 1, Venus figure number 4 by Abramova (1962)

Photo: Abramova (1962)




The Kostenki Venus
The Kostenki Venus

Two figurines from Kostenki/Kostienki. Top figure is catalogued as Kostenki 1, Venus figure number 4, the bottom figure as Venus figure number 2 by Abramova (1962)


Photo: J Jelinek, 'The Evolution of Man'

kostenki venus figures kostenki venus figures





Venus figure as shown in the lower drawings above of two venus figurines from Jelinek.

Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski 2008

Source: Facsimile, Voronezh Museum.




kostenki venus figure





Venus figure as shown above.

The venus does not seem to be in a very good condition, the ivory is apparently delaminating.

Catalogued as Venus figure number 2 by Abramova (1962)

Photo: Abramova (1962)




MezinStatuette féminine de Kostienki 1, vue de face. Collection MAE. Photo L. Iakovleva.

Venus from Kostienki 1, frontal view. Collection MAE. This is the same as the venus above.

Photo and French text: "les mammouths - Dossiers Archéologie - n° 291 - Mars 2004"
Photograph L Iakovleva.

My thanks to Anya for access to this resource.



kostenki venus figures kostenki venus figures kostenki venus figures





This is quite a heavy looking venus figurine. It may not have been completely finished.

Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski 2008

Source: Facsimile, Voronezh Museum.




kostenki venus figures



Black and white photos of the original of the venus above.

This is catalogued as Venus figure number 5 by Abramova (1962)

Photo: Abramova (1962)




kostenki venus figures





Venus figure from Kostenki 1, and a fragment of a venus figure, both facsimiles.

Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski 2008

Source: Facsimile, Voronezh Museum.




kostenki venus figure



Apparently the original of the venus on the left, above.

Catalogued as Kostenki 1 Venus figure number 1 by Abramova (1962)

Photo: Abramova (1962)




kostenki venus figures





Venus figure, another version of the one on the left, above.

Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski 2008

Source: Facsimile, Voronezh Museum.




kostenki venus figure





Venus figure, another version of the one on the left, above. The venus is from Kostenki 1 and is 9 cm high.

This is apparently of the original. Note the cross hatching across the top of the breasts, possibly a decorative band of some kind.

Photo: http://www.istmira.com/foto-i-video-pervobytnoe-obschestvo/3924-iskusstvo-predystorii-pervobytnost-2.html




kostenki venus Venus figure from Kostenki.

Figure of a naked woman. Her head is covered with rows of shallow teeth cuts, depicting, according to Z. A. Abramova, hair or a closely fitting head-dress. Engraved and relief lines on the chest and on the back. Mammoth's tusk. Height 114 mm. Found in 1936, excavation made by P.P. Efimenko, who thought it to be 'one of the best creations of that period, known to us'.

Photo: Cohen (2003)
Text above: http://vm.kemsu.ru/en/palaeolith/plastic/costenki.html

ЖЕНСКАЯ СТАТУЭТКА

бивень мамонта Костенки 1,1 слой (22 тыс. лет), муляж
Одна из самых совершенных женских статуэток эпохи палеолита поражает мастерством исполнения и гармонией внутреннего содержания образа. Пред нами много рожавшая женщина, которая вновь готовится стать матерью. Маленькие ручки вытянуты вдоль живота, голова наклонена, как будто она прислушивается к находящейся внутри ее новой жизни, вся фигурка производит ощущение умиротворения и покоя. Это древнейший женский образ на Земле и символ красоты той эпохи.

Made of mammoth tusk, Kostenki 1, layer 1 (22 000 BP)

One of the most perfect female figurines of the Palaeolithic, with striking craftsmanship and harmony of the inner content of the image. We have before us a woman who already has children, and is preparing to become a mother again. Little hands stretched along the abdomen, head tilted as if she listens to the new life inside her, the whole figure produces a feeling of peace and tranquility. It is a symbol of the beauty of that era.

Additional text: Display, Kostenki Museum




kostenki1venusivory.gif

Another photo of the venus above.

From:
http://vm.kemsu.ru/en/palaeolith/plastic/costenki.html




kostenki venus This image shows both front and back views.

Photo: Rau et al. (2009)




venuskostenki1a.jpg kostenki venus



Venus figure from Kostenki 1.

Photo: (left) N.D. Praslov
Photo: (right) Cohen (2003)


Kostenki Venus Kostenki Venus

Female figurine carved from mammoth tusk. Kostenki 1, layer 1

22 000 BP

Plaster cast.

Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski 2011, 2014




kostenki venus
Venus figure, same as above, plaster cast.

Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski, 2006


Kostenki Venus

Female figurine carved from marl. Kostenki 1, layer 1

22 000 BP

Plaster cast.

Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski 2011




Kostenki
ЖЕНСКАЯ СТАТУЭТКА

мергель Костенки 1,1 слой (22 тыс. лет), муляж

Некоторые женские статуэтки из мергеля в Костенках представляют собой сознательно разбитые фигурки. У данной статуэтки не хватает нижней части ног и верхней части туловища: они были отбиты еще в каменном веке. Возможно, это был ритуал, смысл которого уже не ясен.

Female figurine.

Kostenky 1, layer 1 (22 000 BP), made of marl.

Some female figurines of marl in Kostenki present as deliberately broken figurines. In this statuette the lower part of the legs and the upper body are missing: they were broken off in the Stone Age. Perhaps it was a ritual, the meaning of which is not clear.

Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski 2014
Source: Facsimile, Kostenki Museum




kostenki venus
Another version of the venus figure above.

Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski, 2006


kostenki 4 venus







The upper horizon of Kostenki 4 yielded some interesting finds.

1 and 2 are venus figures, 3 and 4 are fragments of anthropomorphic pieces, and 5 and 6 are engraved plaques of marl (clayey limestone).

Photo: Abramova (1962)




kostenki 1 venus figures







Kostenki 1 venus figures.

1 - A rod with a globular head.

2 - a point with a hat like head.

3 - Rod with a rounded head.



Photo: Abramova (1962)




kostenki venus




This is described as a male venus from Kostenki.

Photo: Abramova (1995)


kostenki male venus







A photograph of the male venus figure above.

Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski 2007
Source: The Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg



VulvaVulve sculptée de Kostienki 1. Collection MAE. Photo L. Iakovleva.

Vulva sculpture from Kostienki 1. Collection MAE.

Photo and French text: "les mammouths - Dossiers Archéologie - n° 291 - Mars 2004"
Photograph L Iakovleva.

My thanks to Anya for access to this resource.



The Kostenki VenusThe Kostenki VenusThe Kostenki Venus

These photos are of the same figurine from Kostenki/Kostenky/Kostienki, although the colour cast in the images are entirely different.

23 000 - 21 000 BC Limestone
H 10.2 cm

This figurine represents the Palaeolithic 'Venus', with overlarge breasts and belly. The faceless head bends towards the chest while the arms are pressed to the body with hands on the belly. Covering the surface of the head are rows of incisions indicating a hair style or cap. Relief work in the form of a tight plait convey a breast ornament tied up at the back. There are bracelets on the arms.



Photo: (left) http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/html_En/03/hm3_2_1a.html.
(right images) http://exn.ca/stories/2000/02/03/53.asp

kostenki venus
Venus figure above, but minus the head.

This has the classic and famous beaded decoration around the neck and above the breasts.

Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski, 2006


Kostenki Venus




This is a much better photograph of the original in the Hermitage Museum at St Petersburg, Russia.

Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski 2007




Kostenki Venus

This facsimile of the figurine above is missing the head, but the very small hands and lower arms are clear in this view.

Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski 2014
Source: Facsimile, Kostenki Museum




Kostenki Venus




Facsimile of the venus figure above.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008

Source: Vienna Natural History Museum




Kostenki Venus


Venus figurines from Kostenki

Photo: http://vantit.ru/antiquities/908-venera-iz-kostenok.html




Kostenki Venus Kostenki Venus





Venus figurine from Kostenki

Photo (left): http://vantit.ru/antiquities/908-venera-iz-kostenok.html
Photo (right): http://old.national-geographic.ru/ngm/200903/article_269/




Kostenki Venus Kostenki Venus





Venus figurine from Kostenki

Photo: Cohen (2003)




kostenki venus figure front and back





Kostenki Venus figure, with a good view of the back of the venus.

Photo: http://shamans-storytellers.wikispaces.com/9E+Look,+Ma,+No+Feet!++Paleolithic+Goddess+Figures




Kostenki Venus


Venus figurine made of marl from Kostenki 1, apparently a facsimile.

Photo: Soffer et al. (2000)




Kostenki Venus


Venus figurine from Kostenki

Photo: http://vantit.ru/antiquities/908-venera-iz-kostenok.html




Kostenki Venus no 6


Venus figurine from Kostenki 1.

Abramova (1962) identifies this as Number 6 from Kostenki 1.

Photo: Abramova (1962)




golfballhead.jpg
Head of a venus known popularly as the golf ball. From the Kostenki I site in Russia. The real basket headware was made of plaited starts and coiled basketry, copied here in stone.

Photo: http://www.unl.edu/rhames/212/venus/venus_string.html

Dr Soffer
Dr. Olga Soffer examining the "golf ball" head of the Venus of the Kostenki I site in Russia.

"Because they have emotionally charged thingies like breasts and buttocks, the Venus figurines have been the subject of more spilled ink than anything I know of," Dr. Soffer said.

"There are as many opinions on them as there are people in field."

Text and Photo: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/history/lecture02/r_2-1.html


Kostenki Venus Kostenki Venus Kostenki Venus




These are photographs of the original in the Hermitage Museum at St Petersburg, Russia.

Photo: Vladimir Gorodnjanski 2007




Kostenki golf ball Venus

Large head made of marl from Kostenki I.

Left, right profile; centre, left profile; right, superior view.

Photo: Soffer et al. (2000)




Lion head and bison

Animal head (possibly a cave lion head), and two bison figurines from Kostenki 4.

Photo: Abramova (1995)




References

  1. Abramova Z., 1962: Paleolitičeskoe iskusstvo na territorii SSSR, Moskva : Akad. Nauk SSSR, Inst. Archeologii, 1962
  2. Abramova Z., 1995: L'Art paléolithique d'Europe orientale et de Sibérie., Grenoble: Jérôme Millon.
  3. Cohen C., 2003: La femme des origines. Images de la femme dans la préhistoire occidentale,, Paris, Belin-Herscher, 2003, 191 pages.
  4. Soffer O., Adovasio J., Hyland D., 2000: The 'Venus' Figurines - Textiles, Basketry, Gender, and Status in the Upper Paleolithic, Current Anthropology Volume 41, Number 4, August–October 2000
  5. Rau, S., Naumann D., Barth M., Mühleis Y., Bleckmann C., 2009: Eiszeit: Kunst und Kultur, Thorbecke, 2009, 396p. ISBN: 978-3-7995-0833-9



Kostenki
Kostenki on the Don River is a very important Paleolithic site. It was a settlement which contained venus figures, dwellings made of mammoth bones, and many flint tools and bone implements.

Back to Venus figures from the Stone Age

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