Venus of Eliseevichi
Characteristics of Russian Figurine, Briansk Region, Russia.

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Venus of Eliseevichi.

Venus of Eliseevichi (c.14,000 BCE)


Location and Discovery
Stone Age Art in Russia
European Venuses
Related Articles

• For a chronological account of Stone Age art in Russia, and North-central Eurasia, see: Prehistoric Art Timeline (from 2.5 million BCE).

• For the earliest sculpture, rock art and cave painting,
see: Oldest Stone Age Art: Top 100 Works.

Venus Impudique
(14,000 BCE)
Musee de l'homme
Paris, France.


The Venus of Eliseevichi (Yeliseevichi) is a rare item of prehistoric sculpture from the final phase of Paleolithic art, which was found in Bryansk Province, southwest of Moscow, in 1930. Although loosely assigned to the class of venus figurines most of which were carved during the era of Gravettian art (c.25,000-20,000 BCE), the statuette is not stylistically similar to other Russian venuses, such as the Venus of Kostenky (Voronezh), the Venus of Gagarino (Lipetsk), the Avdeevo Venuses (Kursk) and the Mal'ta Venuses (Lake Baikal, Siberia). It does not even resemble contemporaneous European venuses from the era of Magdalenisn art (15,000-10,000 BCE) like the "Venus of Engen" (13,000 BCE) or the "Venus of Monruz-Neuchatel" (10,000 BCE).

Location and Discovery

The Venus of Eliseevichi was discovered in 1930 close to the river Sudost, the right tributary of the Desna, in the Bryansk region of western European Russia, some 370 kilometres (230 miles) southwest of Moscow. There are two Eliseevichi archeological sites (Eliseevichi I and II) and most of the prehistoric art and other artifacts were unearthed at Eliseevichi I, next to a domestic shelter, surrounded by mammoth bones. Eliseevichi is also known for its skeletons of Ice Age dogs: one dating to 15,000 BCE, the other to 12,000 BCE.


The Eliseevichi figurine is an ivory carving of a female nude, which measures about 15 centimetres (6 inches) in height. It depicts the shapely figure of a young woman (younger than other Russian venuses), but without head, hands and feet. Her breasts are noticeable but realistic, her waist and torso are very slim, but her thighs and buttocks are well-formed and more prominent. Her pubic triangle is indicated but no vulva is depicted. Where European venuses are portrayed as grossly obese, with massive drooping breasts, protruding buttocks, pregnant belly and exaggerated genitalia, this Venus of Eliseevichi is endowed with a far more realistic, shapely appearance. Overall it bears a strong resemblance to the (8cm) Magdalenian French ivory figurine known as the "Venus Impudique", discovered in 1864 by the Marquis Paul de Vibraye, at the rock shelter of Laugerie Basse on the outskirts of Les Eyzies, in the Dordogne. Indirectly dated to 14,000 BCE, the Venus Impudique is now on display at the Musee de l'homme, in Paris.

Stone Age Art in Russia

There are numerous Paleolithic sites in Russia, many of which have yielded numerous items of mobiliary art (figurines, animal carvings, engraved ivories), as well as a variety of cave art including rock engravings and pictographs, plus a quantity of abstract signs and symbols. The best known of these archeological sites include: Amvrossievka, Apiantcha, Avdeevo, Borchtchevo, Brynzeny, Chan-Koba, Devis-Khvreli, Dobranitchevka, Dubovaya Balka, Gagarino, Gontzy, Gvardgilas-Klde, Ignatievskaya, Ilskaya, Kaistrovaya Balka, Kapova cave, Khoylevo, Kievo-Kirillovskaya, Klinetz, Klimaoutzy, Kosseoutzy, Kostenky, Lissitchniki, Mal'ta, Mejiritch, Murakovka, Novgorod, Severskyi, Ossokorovka, Puchkari, Rogalik, Sagvardgile, Sakagia, Smelobskaya, Starye Duruitory, Suponevo, Suren, Taro-Klde, Timonovka, Uvarov cave, Yudinovo and Zaraysk. Probably the most incredible discovery from the Russian Stone Age, was that of the Shigir Idol (7,500 BCE), the oldest surviving wood carving, which was found preserved in a peat bog near Sverdlovsk.

For more contemporaneous Paleolithic art from the Russian interior, see: Amur River Basin Pottery (from 14,300 BCE).

European Venuses

For photos and information about venus statuettes from Europe during the Upper Paleolithic, please see the following articles.

- Venus of Hohle Fels (ivory) Swabia, Germany.
- Venus of Galgenberg (green steatite) Lower Austria.
- Venus of Dolni Vestonice (ceramic) Moravia, Czech Republic.
- Venus of Willendorf (oolitic limestone) Lower Austria.
- Venus of Monpazier (limonite) Dordogne, France.
- Venus of Savignano (serpentine) Modena, Italy.
- Venus of Moravany (ivory) Trnava, western Slovakia.
- Venus of Lespugue (ivory) Haute-Garonne, France.
- Venus of Brassempouy (ivory) Landes, France.

Related Articles

• For more about rock carvings, see: Petroglyphs.

• For more art from Russia, see: Russian Art (22,000 BCE - present).


• For more information about prehistoric ivory carving, see: Homepage.

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