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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Since their initial discovery in the nineteenth century, human figurines have formed a noticeable part of the artistic record of the 30,000 years of the European Upper Palaeolithic. Some figurines—particularly the ‘Venuses’ of the Mid-Upper Palaeolithic (Gravettian sensu lato)—have long served as icons of Upper Palaeolithic cultural achievement. This chapter reviews our current understanding of figurines of western and North Central Europe. Their first manifestation is with a few enigmatic examples during the Early Upper Palaeolithic (Aurignacian) of southwest Germany. A far more visible and geographically widespread manifestation comes with the Mid-Upper Palaeolithic Venus figurines, and a similarly widespread occurrence comes with the highly schematic side-profile outlines of the Gönnersdorf type, which belong to the Middle and Late Magdalenian. The history of interpretation and current thinking of these figurine horizons is discussed in this chapter, which should be read in conjunction with Chapter 30 (Farbstein).

Keywords: Aurignacian, Gravettian, Magdalenian, Upper Palaeolithic, Venus figurines

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