Obesity in the paleolithic era

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Photos and/or copies of one hundred Upper Paleolithic (45,000-40,000 to 10,000 BP) statues were studied, the photos having been taken from the frontal, lateral and back view. Among the 97 female idols studied, 24 were skinny (mainly young women), 15 were of normal weight, while more than half of them (51) represented overweight or very obese females whose breasts were also extremely large. The figurine analysis revealed various types of obesity. Increased fat tissue deposition can be seen in the following body parts: belly only in 2 Venus figurines, belly + hip in 10, belly + gluteal + hip in 14, belly + hip + gluteal + femora in 24 and diffuse obesity in one. Steatopygia (derived from the Greek "steato" meaning fat, and "pygia" meaning buttocks and describing excessive fat of the buttocks) was observable in 7 idols, although these females were not particularly overweight and had a reasonably thin waist and legs. Only seven statues were in the state of advanced gravidity (pregnancy). The presence of such a small number of gravidity statuettes challenges the general view concerning Venus idols, namely, that they all represent female fertility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-244
Number of pages4
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2011



  • Obesity
  • Paleolithic era
  • Sculptures
  • Steatopygia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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