Stone Age ‘Venus of Egerszeg’ Statuette Unearthed in Hungary
In Hungary, archaeologists have found a 6500-year-old idol. The incomplete figure is a female form and has been named the Venus of Egerszeg. The team who discovered the Venus of Egerszeg say the artifact is helping experts to understand a very important European Neolithic culture.
This amazing find was made by archaeologists from the Göcsej Museum who were working on a site in Zalaegerszeg, Zala county, in western Hungary. The Venus of Egerszeg statuette was near the construction site of the Zalaegerszeg Automotive Test Track. ‘Since 2017, the museum’s staff has been continuously monitoring the earthworks related to the construction of the test track’ reports Hungary Today.
Front of the Stone Age Venus of Egerszeg torso recently found in Hungary. (Göcsej Museum)
Found Venus of Egerszeg Likely Used in Stone Age Rituals
While monitoring the construction, archaeologists found remains from 6000 years ago, above a stream, and immediately began to investigate the site. Archaeology reports that ‘ceramic fragments, some of which had been painted yellow, red, and white, and stone tools’ were recovered during the dig. Many of the artifacts they found were related to cultic or ritual activities. The most beautiful and most important discovery was the clay figure of a female torso which was almost certainly some form of idol.
The very small statuette was artfully crafted, and its feminine characteristics led it to be called the Venus of Egerszeg. The figure has ‘horizontally standing arms, delicately shaped breasts, a cut-out embellishment at the back of the neck’ according to the Göcsej Museum. The figure was broken, and its head was found lying by its side and so were its legs which had delicately crafted feet. This statuette was probably created for religious or ritual purposes. Göcsej Museum states that the artifact ‘preserves the imprint of the spirit of people who lived thousands of years ago.’
Back of the Stone Age Venus of Egerszeg torso recently unearthed in Hungary. (Göcsej Museum)
Neolithic Fertility Cults and the Goddess Powers
‘The researchers suggest that the figure was deliberately broken into small pieces’ according to Archaeology. Similar female idols have also been found crushed to pieces, probably as part of some ceremony, in the region. Hungary Today states that the destruction of the idol ‘could be related to nature and the fertility of the farmland.’ It may have been an effort to destroy the power attributed to the idol or to forge a closer relationship with the deities.
Many Stone Age, Venus-type figurines have been found by archaeologists. A 23,000-year-old statuette called the Gravettian Venus was recently unearthed in France. These “religious” artifacts have been found all over Europe and as far away as Siberia. However, the Venus find in Hungary is markedly different. It is artistically finer than most other examples and was clearly produced by a skilled Stone Age craftsperson.
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The main pieces of the Stone Age Venus of Egerszeg Statuette recently unearthed in Hungary. (Göcsej Museum)
Venus of Egerszeg and The Mysterious Lengyel Culture
The settlement where the Venus of Egerszeg was uncovered is believed to have been part of the Lengyel culture. This culture is known for its distinctive pottery and burial rituals. It is named after Lengyel, a Hungarian settlement where the remains were first excavated. The Lengyel culture flourished in the middle Danube region of Europe some 7000-6000 years ago and its influence extended into what is now Poland and as far south as the western Balkans.
The people of the Lengyel culture were probably ‘Old Europeans’ as opposed to Indo-Europeans. It seems that at some point they were absorbed by the cultures of migrating Indo-Europeans. The Lengyel culture was among the first in Europe to use metals. They were working with copper at the start of the Chalcolithic Age. The Venus of Egerszeg figurine offers valuable insights into the ‘symbolic activities and rites of a community’ that lived over 6000 years ago reports Göcsej Museum.
The rare Venus of Egerszeg statuette is now safely stored within the Göcsej Museum. The beautiful artifact and others found at the Neolithic site will be featured in a virtual exhibition. They will be the main attractions in an interactive 3D exhibition which will be available on the museum's website in late 2020.
Top image: Front of the main piece of the Stone Age Venus of Egerszeg Statuette recently unearthed in Hungary. Source: Göcsej Museum
By Ed Whelan