The Venus of Brassempouy


  • Age: Around 23,000 BCE
  • Material: Mammoth ivory tusk
  • Found: Brassempouy (France) in 1892
  • Present Location: Musée d'Archéologie Nationale in Saint-Germain-en-Laye (France)
  • Length: 3.65cm
  • Width: cm
  • Depth: cm

move cursor over images to magnify replica

The Venus of Brassempouy (or "Lady with the Hood") was discovered in 1892 by Edouard Piette and Joseph de Laporterie. The figurine was discovered during an archeological investigation of two French caves near Brassempouy, known as the Galerie des Hyènes (Gallery of the Hyenas) and the Grotte du Pape (the Pope's Cave).

Her tranquil face is triangular and with forehead, nose and brows are carved in relief, the mouth is absent. The top and sides are incised with a representation of braided hair or an Egyptian-style headdress (image below). A vertical crack on the right side of the face is probably due to a flaw in the ivory.

(© Libor Balák, Antropark - with kind permission)

There is some controversy about its authenticity, as it was recovered at a dig where the workers were paid by what they discovered. However the French post office honored the venus with a 2Fr stamp (above right) issued in March 1976 and designed by Georges Betemps.


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