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Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology
of Eurasia

41 (2) 2013




Analyzing Fertility and Attraction in the Paleolithic: The Venus Figurines

A.J. Tripp and N.E. Schmidt.

Countless hypotheses have focused on the enigmatic “Venuses,” but most are not testable. The current authors investigate a hypothesis suggested by R.D. Guthrie involving the waist-to-hip ratio. This measurement determines fertility, beauty, and health in modern females; a 0.7 indicates cross-cultural beauty and fertility. Guthrie argued that the statuettes share an average waist-to-hip ratio of 0.655, indicating that Paleolithic males preferred curvier women. We sought to test this and analyze regional data. Our mean was signifi cantly different than Guthrie’s and we found evidence for regional differences. While some statuettes may have served as Paleo-erotica, it seems unlikely that they all did.

Keywords: Paleolithic, art, waist-to-hip ratio, Gravettian, Venus.