Maybe this item won’t seem to relate to my writing, but. . . family and friends were having dinner tonight, and people were discussing body types. One lady said her doctor told her at one point, she had a “Rubensesque” figure. I guess she does, in the sense that the painter Rubens liked to paint what would now be called “full-figured” women, which were then fashionable, but now are less so(though you don’t have to go back to the 17th century to find an era when “full figures” were fashionable). In any case, at that point, I just couldn’t resist. . . .I told everyone, back in the time when my hair wasn’t gray, that I had a “Venus of Willendorf” figure.
This is the “Venus of Willendorf”, so named because the figurine was found in or near Willendorf, Austria, in the early 1900’s. Don’t worry. Even when I was pregnant with my daughter, I never, ever, looked like that. Though she was supposedly a fertility figure, the reference was a joke.
Then, oddly enough, I remembered an even older figurine, one of the oldest ones on recorded – it came from a place called Berekhat Ram, in the Golan Heights.
The “Venus of Willendorf” is about 15,000 years old, mad by “modern” humans. But the interesting thing about Berekhat Ram is, it’s about 230,000 years old! And was probably not made by “modern” humans. Possibly it was made by Neandertals. Whoever made it, it was made from volcanic rock. It’s cruder in some ways, because it wasn’t carved in anything like the detail that the Venus of Willendorf was. But nevertheless, it’s exciting, because if it’s not the earliest attempt at deliberate modification of something for “artistic” purposes, it is one of the earliest(there are one or two others, somewhat earlier, I believe. The piece of rock evidently suggested a woman’s profile, to the person who modified the rock, and, while this picture is not particularly good, on some photos, you can see the suggestions of arms. There is a sort of neck, which was apparently deliberately carved in. And because Berekhat Ram was not apparently, created by a “modern” human, it is of great interest, since this leads to the inevitable conclusion that the “esthetic sense”, for lack of a better description, very early became part of the repertoire of behaviors, along the line that eventually led to “modern” humans.
Perhaps, then, I should have said that I had a”Berekhat Ram” figure. But neither I, nor anybody else at the time, knew Berekhat Ram existed. . . .