Krems is the biggest city and the gate to the valley of wine and apricots - the Wachau Valley, a paradise for archaeologists, also known for its Ice Age babies and the oldest and the most sensual Venus figurines. The city lies on the left bank of the Danube River in Lower Austria, 70 km west of Vienna. It is a commercial, cultural and educational centre of the area. The city itself and surrounding area are very famous in the archaeological circles for its sites from the Stone Age. It encompasses the finding sites of the oldest grave in Austria, and the only toddler grave of early Homo sapiens, as well as the the oldest stone representation of a human and the oldest recognised Venus figurine in the world.
The discovery of a well-preserved 32 000-year-old children's grave from the Ice Age is one of the most interesting findings in Austria and even Europe. The tombs are considered the world’s oldest graves of this kind. They are unique since the skeletons of toddlers up to three years, from the time of early Homo sapiens, have never been discovered before. The team of the archaeologists have discovered the skeletons in two separate burial pits. The first pit was containing the skeletons of two infants side by side, twins apparently. The second pit with a single body was discovered a year later, one metre away from the first. The babies had probably died during or shortly after their birth.
The twins’ grave was protected from the outside influences by the mammoth bone and therefore very well-preserved. The reconstructed grave of Ice Age babies can be seen in the Natural History Museum in Vienna.
The Venus of Willendorf is the best preserved and the most known piece of art from the Old Stone Age. It is one of many Venus figurines from the Palaeolithic, discovered in the 19th and the 20th century, that depicts a nude women with the exaggerated sexual features. The figurines representing a women and, indirectly, a fertility, were common during the period of the last Ice Age, when the food was lacking, and the population density declined. At the end of this era, 20,000 years ago, Central Europe was completely abandoned by Homo sapiens. This 11 cm high figurine of an obese, unclothed woman is around 30.000 years old. Because of its sexual features, the figurine was even censored by the Facebook and classified as a pornography. Today, you can see Venus of Willendorf at the Natural History Museum.
This Venus figurine is maybe not as artistically praised as her younger sister Venus of Willendorf, but its uniqueness comes from the fact that this figure of a women with a dancing posture is not only the oldest work of art in Austria but also the world's earliest stone representation of a human being - a woman. It is nicknamed as the Fanny of Galgenberg after Fanny Elssler, very famous Viennese ballerina of the 19th century. This 36 000-year-old stone sculpture is only 7,2 cm tall and weighs 10 g. The back of the figure is flat, while the front is sculpted. The original of the figurine can also be seen also in the Natural History Museum Vienna.
For the archaeologists the Wachau Valley represents a paradise, and all the important findings are gathered, and can be seen, in Vienna, which is not far away from the excavation sites.
Did you like the travel story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.