The discovery of the Venus de Sireuil

The village of Sireuil is located on the plateau above Les Eyzies de Tayac; the two municipalities merged in 1973.

Venus de Sireuil
Venus de Sireuil

The little Romanesque church is listed as a Historical Monument.

However, the village owes its notoriety to the discovery of a Neolithic statuette, known ‘Venus de Sireuil’.

This 92mm tall statuette was carved from a slightly translucent amber calcite pebble and represents a headless female body.

Experts compared the morphological similarities to those of other statues found in the area in order to date her.

They came to the conclusion that it was 25,000 years old.

They also based their assessment on the flints (dating from that same time) they found in the vicinity of the statuette.

Mr. Prat, a resident of nearby hamlet of Manaurie found the Venus de Sireuil by the merest chance!

The wheel of his cart  – heavily loaded with stones from a nearby quarry –  indeed jammed in a muddy rut in a place known as Goulet de Cazelle.

As he struggled to free the wheel, he caught sight of an unusually shaped ‘stone’ that stuck out of the mud.

This anecdote reflects once more the casual nature of most prehistoric discoveries!

Do you remember the circumstances of the discovery of Lascaux?

The statuette most likely stood there for centuries, lost in the depth of the gravel as it was partially damaged.

The statuette

Indeed, the Venus de Sireuil has no head, her arms are broken and her body shows clear marks of scraping and cutting.

Romanesque church near the Venus de Sireuil
Romanesque church

The statuette was handed over to Dr. Capitan, who had been in charge of the restoration of the superb Arènes des Lutèce in Paris.

Capitan sent it to the Museum of National Antiquities in Saint-Germain-en-Laye where it completes the long list of prehistoric collections.

The Venus de Sireuil represents a female figure in profile with arms crossed under her breast.

Her legs are short and thick and she stands in a kneeling position.

Her protuberant abdomen and buttocks are most likely those of a pregnant woman.

The small breasts lead the experts to believe though that this was the representation of a young pregnant woman.

An carved line delineates her waist and the crease between her abdomen and thighs.

Her back is arched.

Finally, a hole situated in the lower part of legs suggests that the statuette could be have been used as a pendant.

The Venus de Sireuil dates from the same epoch than the Venus de Tursac, which was also sculpted from amber calcite.

The two statuettes are exhibited in the Museum of National Antiquities in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

You can have a very good idea of how the Venus de Sireuil looks like as you drive through the village of Sireuil.

In 2000, a 90cm tall replica was indeed placed along the road (by the church.)

This replica is the work of the artist Philippe Marpillat.

Dordogne department
Coordinates: Lat 44.939886 – Long 1.074628

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