Upper Paleolithic Figurines Showing Women with Obesity may Represent Survival Symbols of Climatic Change

Figurines of women with obesity or who are pregnant (“Venus figurines”) from Upper Paleolithic Europe rank among the earliest art and endured from 38,000 to 14,000 BP (before present), one of the most arduous climatic periods in human history. We propose that the Venus representation relates to human adaptation to climate change. During this period, humans faced advancing glaciers and falling temperatures that led to nutritional stress, regional extinctions, and a reduction in the population. We analyzed Paleolithic figurines of women with obesity to test whether the more obese figurines are from sites during the height of the glacial advance and closer to the glacial fronts. Figurines are less obese as distance from the glaciers increases. Because survival required sufficient nutrition for child‐bearing women, we hypothesize that the overnourished woman became an ideal symbol of survival and beauty during episodes of starvation and climate change in Paleolithic Europe.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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