Limited edition of Venus of Věstonice replicas goes on sale

A faithful replica of the Venus of Dolní Věstonice, Czechia’s most famous archaeological find, went on sale on Tuesday at the Moravian Museum in Brno. The current model is much more accurate than any of the previous ones. The prototype for the mould from which the copies were cast was based on CT scans of the original.

The Venus of Dolní Věstonice, a ceramic statuette of a naked woman believed to be 29,000 years old, is considered to be one of the oldest artefacts of its kind in the world. A few years ago, researchers scanned the figurine in a special 3D microscope, creating a detailed digital model.

Photo: Václav Šálek,  ČTK

Using the information from the scan, sculptor Jiří Pec created a faithful replica of the Neolithic statuette:

“It is no longer possible to make a classic mould for the Venus of Věstonice that would reveal all the irregularities on the surface. Since the original could be damaged in the process, we had to choose a digital form.”

The museum staff wanted to create a sufficiently faithful and representative copy that would match the original not only in appearance, but also in weight and finish.

It took them about a year to come up with the right composition and colour of the mixture for the castings, says Mr. Pec:

“When you have a plastic cast, you feel that it is light and warm. But when you hold this Venus, it feels like holding a stone. In fact, the replica is made from raw material, resin dyed with colourful pigments.”

Despite it faithfulness to the original, there is one major difference – unlike the original, the replica is not broken into two pieces, explains the museum’s curator Petr Neruda.

Petr Neruda | Photo: Václav Šálek,  ČTK

“It is usually displayed upright on a stand. That’s why we decided to make it as one piece. The statuette was originally made as one piece. The fact that it is in two pieces today is likely the result of the firing process, during which the statue cracked.”

The ceramic figure, which some archaeologists believe could have been a symbol of fertility, was discovered in South Moravia in July 1925. The statuette, broken in two pieces, was found amongst the remnants of a pre-historic fire pit once used by mammoth hunters.

Although many similar figures have been found since then, Venus of Dolní Věstonice has not lost any of its value. What makes it so unique is the fact that it was made by burning the clay, a technology commonly used only in the later Neolithic period.

The Moravian Museum in Brno has so far created a limited edition of 50 numbered replicas, which sell for CZK 690. Another batch should go on sale before Christmas.

The original Venus of Dolní Věstonice is currently on display at the museum’s Anthropos Pavilion in Brno as part of an exhibition called The Oldest Jewellery and Body Adornments, which runs until February 28.

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