From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Among the oldest surviving examples of erotic depictions are Paleolithic cave paintings and carvings. Some of the more common images are of animals, hunting scenes and depictions of human genitalia (thought to be fertility symbols). Nude human beings with exaggerated sexual characteristics are depicted in some Paleolithic paintings and artifacts (e.g. Venus figurines). Recently discovered cave art at Creswell Crags in England, thought to be more than 12,000 years old, includes some symbols that may be stylized versions of female genitalia. However there is no indication that these were made for erotic stimulation, so it is far more likely that these were objects used in religious rituals. Archaeologists in Germany reported in April 2005 that they had found what they believe is a 7,200-year-old scene depicting a male figurine bending over a female figurine in a manner suggestive of sexual intercourse. The male figure has been named Adonis von Zschernitz. However, it is not certain that the purpose of these artifacts was individual sexual arousal. Instead, the images may have had a spiritual significance and are probably connected with fertility rituals.
Venus figurines is an umbrella term for a number of prehistoric statuettes of women sharing common attributes (many depicted as apparently obese or pregnant) from the Upper Palaeolithic, mostly found in Europe.
There are many interpretations of the figurines, often based on little argument or fact. Like many prehistoric artifacts, the cultural meaning of these figures may never be known. Archaeologists speculate, however, that they may be emblems of security and success, fertility icons, pornographic imagery, or even direct representations of a Great Goddess or Mother Goddess or various local goddesses. The female figures, as part of Upper Palaeolithic portable art, appear to have no practical use in the context of subsistence. They are mostly discovered in settlement contexts, both in open-air sites and caves; burial contexts are much more rare.
Cave painting and Shaft of the Dead Man
The Scene of the Dead Man is a cave painting found in a side chamber in the Caves of Lascaux, the only painting in the Lascaux caves which depicts a human figure.The human figure (drawn as a stick figure) appears to be a dead man lying prone in front of a bison. The man has an erection. The bison is wounded with its entrails hanging out and next to the scene is a broken spear. There is also a fleeing rhinoceros.
- Sex at Dawn
- Animal sexual behaviour
- Fertility rite
- Prehistoric art
- Prehistoric religion
- Primitive promiscuity
- Seasonal breeding