Tosca Snijdelaar: Venus Figurines. From Body Process to Symbolic Artefact


In this article, the working of certain bodily processes is presented as the basis for the apotropaic meaning and function of the genitals of the Upper Palaeolithic Venus Figurines. The working of the sympathetic nervous system is identified as the cause of genital arousal due to anxiety. The simultaneous experience of anxiety and the engorgement of the labia and clitoris led to an apotropaic meaning, in addition to a sexual meaning, being assigned to the genitals during the Palaeolithic Era. The ability to think in symbols, which was developing greatly at this time, led to that which could be experienced in bodies being transferred to Venus Figurines.

[Venus figurines, archaeology, apotropaic meaning, genitalia]