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Humanities LibreTexts

2.4: Handheld Art

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  • Venus figures: The Venus figures (2.23), also known as a fertility goddess, received the names from archeologists to describe the pocket-sized female like sculptures (2.24). Most figures have been found in caves or locations of repeated campsites by prehistoric people. The figures have dated between 50,000 to 10,000 BCE, typically range in size from 2 cm to 11 cm, carved from bone, antler, or stone. They lack facial features, have small arms and legs, and demonstrate exaggerated features.

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    2.23 Venus of Willendorf 2.24 Venus of Laussel

    Sculpture: Small, picturesque carvings found in the caves or near multi-user campsites. Although very fortunate to discover these 10,000 BCE sculptures, they ask more questions than provide answers. What were they used for? These small pieces, similar to the small animal found in France (2.25), pushed our ideas about prehistoric people and their desire to create beautiful art, probably most of these small carvings have remained unfound.


    2.25 La Madeleine Rock Shelter

    Tools: Around 2.5 million years ago, stone tools (2.26) began to appear in the archeological record. Hammerstones were the most common tool, followed by ax points for hunting dated 1.75 million years ago. The innovation spread as prehistoric groups tracked the animals and ran into other groups of humans advancing discoveries. As raw materials are discovered, stone tools evolved with the advent of the invention. Dating back to 50,000 BCE, this hand-ax (2.27) found in Hazar Merd cave, a paleolithic cave in Iraq.


    2.26 Flint Hand Axe 2.27 Hand ax

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