The oldest stone representation of a human - Venus of Galgenberg

The oldest stone representation of a human - Venus of Galgenberg

2 minutes to read

The Wachau valley is not only famous for its top white wines and apricots so-called the orange gold of Wachau, but also for some amazing archaeological sites and findings from the Stone Age, such as the Venus of Galgenberg, the oldest stone representation of a human.

Dancing Fanny

This Venus figurine, with its dancing posture, is also known as the Fanny of Galgenberg after Fanny Elssler, an Austrian ballerina of the 19th century. Since the representation is not unambiguous, it is sometimes also interpreted as a hunter with a stick. Nevertheless, this 36 000-year-old statuette is the oldest generally recognised Venus figurine in the world. Fanny is not only the oldest work of art in Austria but also the world's earliest stone representation of a human being - a woman.

The statuette was found in 1988 on the Galgenberg hill near Stratzing, a small town next to Krems, and not far away from the site of the Venus of Willendorf. During the excavation works for a water tank, the statue was found broken in eight pieces. It is a stone sculpture 7,2 cm tall, and it weighs 10 g. The back of the figure is flat, while the front is sculpted. It is carved from a shiny green serpentine rock, that was found in the immediate vicinity, so it can be concluded that the statue may have been made at the site.

The statue of Venus belongs to the Aurignacian, the oldest archaeological culture of the European Upper Palaeolithic and coincided with the spread of a anatomically modern man - Homo sapiens, in most of Europe. The Aurignacian era was preceded by the cultural stages of the Neanderthal. However, some Neanderthals and modern Homo sapiens lived side by side in Europe at the early stages of the Upper Palaeolithic.

The original of the figurine can be seen in the Natural History Museum Vienna next to its famous 7000 years younger relative the Venus of Willendorf. They are usually displayed in the same cabinet to emphasize their uniqueness.

The world of the Stone Age

The theme park “Ice Age Trail” is located in Stratzing, around the site, as an educational tour for tourists. The information boards can be found along the Ice Age hiking trail, that takes visitors back to the time of the Stone Age hunters and gatherers. Along the trail, you can find the imitations of the Stone Age dwellings, and for those who are interested, there is a possibility to try out using spears or shooting from arcs. The road takes you to the summit of the hill Galgenberg, and from there you can enjoy a dreamlike view of the high Alps, Danube and Wachau Valley.

If you are interested in history and the first Homo sapiens that were settled in Europe, then the story of the dancing figurine of Venus of Galgenberg, the oldest stone representation of a human, could be your first stop.

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The author

Ogi Savic

Ogi Savic

I am Ogi. A journalist and economist, I live in Vienna and I am passionate about skiing, traveling, good food and drinks. I write about all these aspects (and more) of beautiful Austria.

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