Thursday, May 28, 2009

archeology and nick nacks

Did you hear about the fascinating tiny figure, carved by Stone Age
tool mammoth tusk that was found recently in Germany? She's just
six centimetres (2.5 inches) tall and could be the oldest piece of
figurative art in the world. Dubbed the "Venus of the Hohle Fels,"
after a cave at Schelklingen in the Swabian Jura of southwestern
Germany where she was found, the carving is around 32,000 years
old, according to carbon-dating measurements.

Like most Venus figurines, she was most likely a fertility fetish,
since her body parts are exaggerated and missing a head. Well, if
this is what was considered attractive way back when, then I was
certainly born in the wrong time period! I think she's fabulous, even
if her figure is a tad on the, well, matronly side.

Archeology fascinates me. I wonder if Chief Leatherlips left behind
any goodies on the grounds of Willow Manor? If you see me out
aimlessly digging with my garden spade, you'll know what I'm up to.

Not only do I like archeology, but miniatures have always captured
my magpie eye. There's just something magical about detailed tiny
objects. Most of my small collected stuff is in a glass keepsake jar,
but I still have quite a few of my minis scattered around the manor.
I have to be careful not to let them get out of control. After all, that
"doily lady" nick-nack paddy-whack effect is not exactly what I'm
striving for.

I wonder what they might think, 35,000 years from now, if they
find these little guys buried in the ruins of Willow Manor? Magical
cooking talismans, I'm sure.


  1. Nice post, Willow, as usual. Always something fresh to be found at WM. You are so deserving of the award you received.

    Love those little figurines. My cats would love them, too. Oh, the joy in breaking things.

    People who found them would think the cute little cook in the middle was Willow.

  2. nice post. always fun to see what has been left behind in the ground. when younger i had dreams of archaeology...too much indiana jones i believe. interesting on the venus aspect and what cultures choose to embellish..

  3. I have doilies and miniatures too. I'm almost 'over' dusting them. I have a hysterical mind picture of that 'doily' lady digging holes all over the Manor grounds. Very fun, thanks.

  4. Well, I know Willow Manor is number one most days with me! Congratulations! The art world has long had me convinced I am living in the wrong era (chuckling out loud). I have a miniature collection of English cottages on my kitchem windowsill!
    If you are right, when they dig up the grounds here, someone will say I loved my little house!

  5. We do collect shiny objects, don't we? My favorite thing to collect are dishes, platters and tea pots. I don't even drink tea.

  6. Oh I did not see this! Fantastic! History keeps on changing with every new discovery. Too, Europe ahs been a wealth of finds to the archeology community. Bravo Willow, for bringing this to my attention :)

  7. Fascinating, (I also dreamed of a life as Indiana Jones), I would have failed, while I am fearless in the presence of snakes, I scream like a ten year old girl if a big bug gets on me. Yeah, don't tell anyone, I'd like to keep the bug thing just our little secret.

    I had a few miniatures as a child, but really got into it while I lived in Europe, near OCD. Always glad to hear of others, makes me lean toward normal.

    Very interesting post Willow.

  8. I love the 'Venus' but I'd rather look at your little cooks!

    I'm jealous that you have cherry trees. Can't wait to see what you make with them.

  9. Considering her age (and the size of it), our German lady has a very pert bosom!

    I visited Jane Austen's home a couple of days ago and they had an interesting collection of bits and pieces found beneath the floorboards. Perhaps you should deliberately stow away some of your treasures for someone to find some day?

    I've been writing about fossils, too, funnily enough.

  10. Suddenly the Venus of Willendorf in Vienna's Natural History Museum has been upgraded to teenager! :-)

    I grew up in a place where farmers regularly dig up pottery shards and other artifacts, dating back to Roman times, even prehistoric arrow heads. My brothers still love to walk the fields in the fall, after they have been plowed, searching for treasures.

    On the edge of our tiny farming village, the remains of a large Roman villa have been dug out a couple of years ago. After thoroughly documenting the findings, all was covered with a thick layer of soil in order to protect it for future generations. Now cows graze again over these lands, just as there may have been animals grazing 2000 years ago.

  11. There was a time when I thought I would be an archeologist. What fantastic finds in Germany!
    It is so easy to let our magpie habits get out of control. It's definitely time for me to move some of my collection out....maybe I should bury them in the garden.

  12. I think they would probably wonder about the silly hats we used to wear.

    Yes, I did read about the new little venus figure, she's beautirul. I would like to think that women were revered back then as the mystery that we all surely are. I've also often wondered at what point in the past did people put 2 and 2 together re sex and babies. Did we ever think that pregnancy happened spontaneously?

    Archeology has always fascinated me. I wonder sometimes about the little art pieces I make, and the bigger architectural ones as well, if any will survive to be dug up several thousands of years later.

  13. Congratulations on your "authorblog" feature! I have checked it out and found some very interesting blogs featured along with yours!

  14. Last week we went to an antique mall with over 100 vendors. I was amazed at all of the miniature salt and pepper shakers throughout. We felt oddly compelled to buy lots of them, but we didn't. But I'm sure we'll go back ;)

  15. Archeology is also one of my fascinations- the venus figurines are one of the foundations that Jean M. Auel uses in her fictional representations of prehistoric Europe in her Earth's Children series.

    There is so much knowledge lost as time flies by. Fascinating post Willow!

  16. Hey, where did you find that statue of me? Or should I say - bust.

    My mum finds Indian trading beads in her garden. They rise to the surface in the spring. Once she found a pre-historic stone tool.

    I found an Indian Head penny here in Toronto but that's about it.

    I'm trying the tortilla drumsticks tonight. I'll let you know how it goes.

  17. Congratulations Willow. You do cover a lot of interesting subjects.

  18. Congratulations Willow on your 'Post of the Day'. I struggle with poetry but I read this again and again. You are truly courageous. Thanks for sharing this side of you.

  19. Your post made me think of a little bear stone I have. Several years ago I visited Devil's Tower in Wyoming. You know, that big monolith used in Close Encounters where the mother spaceship comes at the end of the film. Well, the actual story about the tower is of Native American lore and the striations on the side of the tower were supposedly carved by a bear's claws digging in while trying to get to two children hiding on the top. Stick with me. When I stepped out of the car in the campground near the base of the tower the first thing I saw was a small stone on the ground in the shape of a bear, hind end in the air, front paws extended out in front. I looked at the rock, I looked at the tower, and I knew I was supposed to be there. The little rock now sits on my bookshelf as a reminder. You have to notice the little things for the signs.

  20. I am so into miniatures, too! Must post on some of them one day!!

    And again, congrats on the POTD honor!!

  21. congrats on the kudos from david!

  22. You wonder about your collection in 35,000 years. I can give you a hint. Someone will study it and write a scholarly book taking detailed photos of the shards. Years ago I designed a book for a University and an art gallery that was about Mesopotamian cylinder seals. Tiny stones, intricately carved on all sides. I remember standing with the author as she casually handed me the little stones and said "This one dates to 3000 B.C., this one to 1500 B.C., this one around 2450 B.C." I kept looking at my hand, then at her, and thinking "Whoa, it would be really easy to pocket one of these." I gave them all back, but it was very strange holding something that small, that old, and that important. So I'm thinking, your little baker fellow...if he holds his act together...easily book jacket material a few thousand years from now.

  23. Interesting.... I am glad to see art appreciation has been with us since the beginning of time.

    That's the way it should be as there is nothing better than art in our world.

    Take care.

  24. Love those little cooks!

    Congratulations, Willow, on your Post of the Day - your poem is brilliant and moving.

  25. cycladic art was a favorite of mine in college; all those little figures I longed to hold.

    Try Last Days of Chez Nous, for an Australia movie, written by Helen Garner. She has a new book out as well.

  26. I often find treasures digging up yards. And here somewhere is a very old dump where all kinds of glass bottles can be found. i once had many little treasures too. one example my gram's tiny porcelain shoe collection. many had to go when i moved. sob.

  27. Funny, your little cooking talismans.

    The archaelogical find is quite interesting. Very top-heavy, too!

  28. Oh, I'm so with you on this one, Willow--I love archeology, too. When I was in the 4th grade, I read about the lost city of Pompeii, and then and there decided I wanted to be an archeologist. 'Course, I didn't become one, but I'm still fascinated by anything related to it. As for your nick-nacks, they're wonderful. I'll bet if anyone in the future finds them on your Manor grounds, they'll still be in good condition, because they'll be well-loved there.

  29. What a fantastic fetish find, although I do think the willendorf venus has a bit more sex apeal! congratulations on the award, isn't that great.

  30. Thanks for bringing the dear lady to my attention. She looks similar to the Venus of Willendorf which up to now was the oldest figurine found. They all resemble Dolly Parton, the hip part I can relate to but carrying a whole dress circle aroud would be a bit much.
    Years ago in my mountain garden I found a tiny 2" unglazed porcelain figure of St.Nikolaus. It was obviously European but had me wondering about the lack of glaze.
    Otherwise it had superb dtail. After the house burned down I found it again unscathed.

  31. Willow said,"Hey, I've been awarded "Post of the Day" from
    Authorblog's David McMahon for my post "Shards"!
    Willow,I truly can understand why you were acknowledged...Congratulation! are once again in order.

    This is a very thought-provoking, informative,
    hmmm...and amusing,
    post too!..."archeology and nick nacks."

    Thanks, for sharing!
    DeeDee ;-D

  32. i like those little guys too !


  33. I will have to stop making Venus of Willendorf replicas and start making Venus of the Hohle Fels, though it does not fall so sweetly from the tongue. Peace.

  34. I have always loved archeology, and am waiting until the end of June for the 'Dead Sea Scrolls' to go on exhibition at Toronto's ROM - Royal Ontario Museum. They will be on exhibit from June 27 09 until January 3 10.

  35. Ah, for the days when a womanly figure wasn't too much of a good thing!

    Congratulations on the award! The post was excellent and the photo like beautiful abstract art.

  36. At first glance I thought they were teeth! And then I looked closer and thought...fertility fetish. So glad you posted about this...I hadn't read of the discovery. Fascinating!

  37. Willow, I took a child's china tea set and tucked it into a hollow of a massive oak tree, hoping some child would happen upon it someday. Then, an ice storm toppled this behemoth 2 years ago and it is buried within a two hundred year old fallen oak. I guess it will still be there in the future. but not without some digging. I have a friend that collects tiny chefs and I never see them for her. Also, the carving was very accurate in the south regions. Hmmmm

  38. I like nick nacks, but only up to a point. Your little guys are cute, though.

  39. There was a point in my childhood when I decided to become an archaelogist, but that had something to do with the Indiana movies and less with the amount of time one spends digging artefacts out of the ground.

    This was a fantastic post and as to this Venus figure, I'll have you know that on certain islands of the Pacific that's how they want their women, fully rounded.

    Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  40. I have been looking for the Goddess charms for my jewelry, they are a magical force, more than we know...and I think this is a perfect combo for your 'Shards' post. Religion today is so fear based and taken out of context...what of ancient man/woman BC, were they nothing but savages, having no souls to save(or was it gold and lands for the church)...I'm with ya girl!

  41. Good morning Wills,
    What an interesting find. Just goes to show that thin is not normal. Hurray for chubby!

  42. I too wonder about how our culture will be received in the future. How will they interpret our icons?

    Though fascinated by the Venus figurines who are images of the Goddess, I have to say I always cringe when I see them. They aren't pretty.

    Overly skinny figurines also make me cringe - such as the photoshopped models in fashion magazines, or movie stars with puffed up lips but stick-like arms and legs.

    Why must we women always exaggerate what's there? Aren't we nice enough as is?

  43. Yup, as soon as I saw those first two figures, I said "fertility goddesses." Gotta love 'em!

  44. The mini matronly venus is amazing.. and your little cooks are great, too! :)

  45. Hello Willow,

    I almost missed this one! I thought the tiny pimple on the top of the Venus was her head!!! What else would you carve on the dark winter nights in your cosy cave? But I think I prefer your little chefs!

  46. Somehow I doubt that you will ever be a "doily lady." Archaeology is fascinating, all those riddles. Congratulations on your well-deserved honor.

  47. I think we should bury something important of ourselves in our backyards so that years from now, someone WILL come along and wonder who was the person who lived in this place. We could learn something from the Egyptians, say or any early civilization for that matter.
    I loved that "doily-lady" knick-knack paddy-whack...ha ha.


  48. leaves and grassSun May 31, 12:30:00 PM

    Thanks for the post on the Venus of the Hohle Fels figurines. I'm fascinated by goddess mythology, and I think it's hilarious that some reporters and scientists regard the figurines as "ancient porn." Ohhh, men.

  49. * giggles * LOVE that venus and her fabulous, voluptuous curves!! Love this post! Love your blog. :)


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)