Northern Colorado speaker discusses Venus figurines
Sarah Milledge Nelson during her talk on Venus figurines. Breelyn Bowe | The Mirror
What does it mean when some of the first pieces of prehistoric art represent the female form?
Sarah Milledge Nelson, 2011 recipient of the Wellesley College Alumnae Achievement Award, spoke as the fourth lecturer in the yearly Lydia Ruyle Room of Women's Arts Speaker Series on Tuesday. The presentation was titled "Upper Paleolithic Female Figurines: What Do They Mean?"
Milledge Nelson's lecture focused on things she considers to be popular misconceptions about cavemen. She specifically focused on the "Venus figurines." The Venus figurines are ancient female statues that archaeologists have found all over the world.
Milledge Nelson said modern anthropologists have often misinterpreted these figurines.
"When we talk about the past, we have to beware the conceptions of our own culture," Milledge Nelson said. "Assumptions of our culture should not be read into the past."
Milledge Nelson explained popular anthropological misconceptions have left out women from much of early history. She explained the nakedness of the Venus figures does not necessarily mean that they were erotic in nature and made by men.
She recounted a conversation she had with a male anthropologist following a speech he made.
"I told him, 'You keep referring to the cave painter as 'he,' but do you actually think that it was just men in the caves?'" Milledge Nelson said. "And he said, 'You have to realize it was dark and scary in those caves.' So I said, 'Oh, I see, cave women were afraid of mice and spiders.'"
Milledge Nelson also explained that the labeling of the Venus figurines as "fat ladies" motivated her to investigate them.
"The fact that they were called 'fat ladies' was what led me into my research," Milledge Nelson said. "In one of my lectures, I said that the figurines were stylized, and one of my female students who was overweight said, 'No, they're not stylized.' The student explained to me that the places on the figurines that have a lot of fat, those are the places where females really put on fat."
Milledge Nelson also addressed the misconception that all of the Venus figurines are obese, explaining that there are actually several types of figurines varying in body type.
She also cleared up other misconceptions about the figurines. One student asked if the figurines might look obese because they are actually self-portraits.
"I think that's silly," Milledge Nelson replied. "The woman who made the figurine had to look down at herself so the figurine gets distorted? Weren't there any other women around to look at?"
Milledge Nelson said that fewer than 100 of the figurines have been found, and the majority of them were found one at a time, which makes it difficult to determine their significance in ancient society.
Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly
More uncmirror News Articles
Recent uncmirror News Articles
Discuss This Article
MOST POPULAR UNCMIRROR
GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY
FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER
LATEST UNCMIRROR NEWS
- Why I'm afraid for the upcoming presidential election
- Jeff Linder brought on as UNC Men's Basketball Head Coach
- Annual PVA picnic celebrates arts
- Can men be feminists?
- News Briefs for the week of 5/2/2016
- UNC’s Coach Collins headlines ninth annual Colorado Coaches for Charity
- Future explorers start at museum
RECENT UNCMIRROR CLASSIFIEDS
FROM AROUND THE WEB
- Driver Safety: New Tips for Road Trips
- What to Ask About the Medicines You Take
- Summer Is the Perfect Time to Catch Up on Some Reading
- There's At Least One Thing Americans Are Satisfied With
- What to Look for in a New House This Home Buying Season
- Is Your Eye Makeup Making You Sick? What You Need to Know
- Biotech Companies Are Still the "It" Stock to Have in...
- Give Seniors a Lift With Household Chores
- On the Brink: Africa Viewed As Growth Target for Telecom
- Protect Your Family With Encryption
COLLEGE PRESS RELEASES
- Higher Education Goes Solar to Charge Mobile Devices
- Course Hero Beats Donation Goal for Books for Africa
- Course Hero Receives 2016 Top Workplace Award from Bay Area News Group
- Citavi Offers Summer Thesis-Writing Toolkit for Graduate Students
- Course Hero Welcomes Dr. Arthur Levine to their Advisory Board