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Return of the Stone Age 'antiques'.

Good fortune led to the recovery of seven Venus figurines, carved between 18,000 and 25,000 years ago, that have been missing since 1914, two archaeologists announced early this month.

Venus figurines typically depict nude, pregnant women. Some investigators argue that prehistoric people used the statues in fertility rituals. Sites throughout Europe and Asia, dating from 12,000 to 25,000 years old, have yielded nearly 200 Venus figurines. Amateur archaeologist Louis Jullien found 15 such figurines at a European site in 1883; he sold seven of them to a Paris museum and later moved to Montreal, apparently with the remaining pieces. Harvard University acquired one of those figurines from a daughter of Jullien in the 1940s.

The rest could not be located until last year, when a Quebec artist brought five figurines -- ranging in height from 1 inch to 6 inches -- to Michael Bisson of McGill University in Montreal. The artist had bought the statues at an antique shop in 1990 and wanted to learn more about them from Bisson, who studies Stone Age material from Africa. A startled Bisson realized the potential significance of the artist's purchases. Randall White of New York University confirmed their authenticity as five of Jullien's missing carvings.

Bisson and White then tracked down the remaining two Venus statues with the help of the antique shop owner.

Two of the recovered pieces appear above. A pregnant female figurine carved out of green serpentine is shown in profile, left, and the ivory statuette, right, probably also depicts a pregnancy, according to Bisson and White.
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Title Annotation:seven Stone Age figurines recovered
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Feb 19, 1994
Words:260
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