Discuss the importance of Paleolithic female figurines.

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Paleolithic female figurines have been uncovered across Europe and Asia and are often referred to as "Venus" figurines, though they predate the goddess of the same name by thousands of years. Paleoanthropologists date the figures from between 40,000 and 10,000 BCE.

At this point in history, the bodies of women would have been lithe and muscular; their lifestyle and diets simply would not have allowed for the storage of a great deal of fat. Interestingly, the Paleolithic figurines do not reflect this body type. Instead, they are quite voluptuous, with large breasts, wide hips, and rounded bellies. Therefore, it is likely that these figurines do not reflect any particular woman but instead reflect spiritual associations of fertility. Some believe that women, who were mostly nomadic during this time period, carried these figurines as sacred objects. Some of the figurines have been stained with red ochre, and others have lunar phases carved into their bodies; both present compelling evidence that the figurines were associated with fertility.

These "Venus" figurines portray a reverence for the life-giving abilities of the female body. In a modern society where voluptuous curves are not often revered, this representation of natural beauty is a reminder of the incredible strength that exists in the female form.

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