Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Robin Smith


Interpretations of Upper Paleolithic Venus figurines pose an interesting challenge for archaeologists. Scholars who have studied these prehistoric representations of the female form have reached a variety of conclusions that may be better seen as a reflection of modern sociocultural values and ideals than being representative of the peoples who made the Venuses. I argue that by transposing our own ideals onto the Venus figurines, we act as colonizers and appropriators of the past. Reviewing archaeological literature regarding the Venuses, we gain a sense of the strengths and weaknesses of current approaches to interpreting representations of gender. These lessons serve as a starting point for constructing archaeological methods of interpreting representations of gender and gender relations in a way that more accurately reflects the ancient peoples who crafted these figurines.



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