Venus of Galgenberg
Discovery, Description, Characteristics, Dating.

Pin it

The Venus of Galgenberg
The oldest Stone Age art ever found
in Austria. The tiny statuette is also
known as The Stratzing Figurine.
(Natural History Museum, Vienna).

Venus of Galgenberg (c.30,000 BCE)
The Stratzing Figurine


Description and Characteristics
Other Stone Age Venus Figurines
Related Articles


The Venus of Galgenberg, also known as the "Stratzing figurine" is an example of prehistoric sculpture carved during the era of Aurignacian art in Europe. One of the famous Venus figurines found across Europe, it is dated to about 30,000 BCE, making it one of the oldest female figurines in prehistoric art, along with the Venus of Hohle Fels (38,000-33,000 BCE). Made from green serpentine stone, it was discovered in 1988 close to Stratzing in Lower Austria, not far from where the celebrated Venus of Willendorf was unearthed in 1908. As the earliest art ever found in Austria, the Venus of Galgenberg is now part of the collection of rock art in the Natural History Museum, Vienna. In order to understand how the Stratzing figurine fits into the overall evolution of early art, please see: Prehistoric Art Timeline (from 2.5 million BCE).

For another important example of Stone Age art from Central Europe, please see: Coliboaia Cave Art (30,000 BCE).


The stone sculpture was discovered on September 23, 1988 during the excavation of an Aurignacian shelter used by Paleolithic hunter-gatherers at Galgenberg near Stratzing (Lower Austria). Subsequent analysis has revealed that the shelter was part of a regularly used Ice Age camp site between Krems-Rehberg and Stratzing. Charcoal and flint tools of coarse-grain stone were found at a number of fire places, but no cave art or other items of mobiliary art, or decorative adornments. Lying broken into several pieces, the figurine was probably carved locally, firstly since a large number of tiny fragments of serpentine were found close to the statuette, suggesting they were flakings from the original carving, and secondly because a deposit of the same type of stone was found in the immediate vicinity of the camp site. A Stone Age theme park has been built around the spot where the venus was discovered.

Description and Characteristics

The Venus of Galgenberg measures 7.2 centimetres in height (3 inches) and weighs 10 grams. It is sculpted from a very shiny, greenish amphibolite slate (serpentine), a type of stone later used for Stone Age axes, like the Neolithic stone axe from Vols am Schlern. Like most venuses made during the era of Paleolithic art, the figure depicts a nude female in an upright standing position, but without feet. The breasts are highlighted and the genitalia clearly indicated. The upper body of the venus is turned to one side, as if in a dancing position. The right hand rests on the thigh, again as if striking a formal dance position. Because of its dance-like pose, it was quickly christened "Fanny", after the renowned Viennese ballerina Fanny Elssler (1810-84).

Among the most mysterious female nudes in the history of Stone Age art, venus figurines are believed to represent some type of fertility symbol - hence the exaggerated depictions of female genitalia, and so on. But what mystifies paleoanthropologists is how exactly Stone Age humans throughout Europe came to carve very similar figures, with very similar characteristics, over the same period of time.

Other Stone Age Venus Figurines

Aside from the two Acheulian-culture effigies, the Venus of Berekhat Ram (230,000 - 700,000 BCE) and the Venus of Tan-Tan (200,000 - 500,000 BCE), which belong to a different era altogether, most of the venus figurines were carved during the era of Gravettian art (25,000-20,000 BCE). Here is a small selection.

- Venus of Hohle Fels (38,000-33,000) Germany.
- Venus of Dolni Vestonice (26,000) Czech Republic.
- Venus of Monpazier (25,000) France.
- Venus of Willendorf (25,000) Austria.
- Venus of Savignano (24,000) Italy.
- Venus of Moravany (24,000) Slovakia.
- Venus of Laussel (c.23,000) France.
- Venus of Brassempouy (23,000) France.
- Venus of Lespugue (23,000) France.
- Venus of Kostenky (22,000) Russia (Voronezh).
- Venus of Gagarino (20,000) Russia (Lipetsk).
- Avdeevo Venuses (20,000) Russia (Kursk).
- Venuses of Mal'ta (20,000) Russia (Irkutsk, Siberia).
- Zaraysk Venuses (20,000) Russia (Moscow Oblast).
- Venus of Engen (13,000) Switzerland.
- Venus of Monruz-Neuchatel (10,000) Switzerland.
- Venus of Eliseevichi (14,000) Russia (Bryansk Oblast).

Related Articles

• For the oldest male carving, see: Lion Man of Hohlenstein Stadel.

• For more prehistoric sculpture, see: Ivory Carving.

• For other types of sculpture, see: Wood Carving.

• For the evolution of plastic art, see: History of Sculpture.


• For more information about Austrian prehistoric art, see: Homepage.

© All rights reserved.