Oh Venus


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 These is some interesting discussion on Primal Wisdom on the Venus of Willendorf, a figurine from the Upper Paleolithic. 

As this paper describes, the figurine is an uncannily accurate anatomically correct depiction of adiposity.

Don asserts that such figures are found throughout paleolithic sites in Europe, but I would view these in a different light

The Venus of Willendorf, a depiction of what modern scientists refer to as "obesity" is in the middle. The other two are less clear cut. They look like they have steatopygia, a genetic condition that has died out in modern humans but which may have once been more common.

Either way, there haven't been many dietary studies done on the skeletons found nearby, so while it may seem logical to assume they were eating mostly meat and fat that far north, who really knows? That's the reason the aforementioned paper is really one of the few reputable ones I could find on the subject, since such a figurine doesn't really tell us all that much.

However, I don't find it as surprising as others do. There is evidence from that period and region for material inequality and sedentism- for example, textiles that would have taken many people years to produce and would have been only worn by one person. Such a person may also have had a sedentary life with much food simply given to them. 

It might also shock you to learn there are paleolithic skeletons with evidence of cavities, cancer, and other pathologies. The more I actually study bones, the less I am able to hew to the idea that the paleolithic was some kind of health utopia where everyone looked like the hot folks at your local gym. 

Either way, we have a lot to learn about the paleolithic. I'd love to see isotope or starch grain analysis done on those bones if possible.