The Guernsey County Venus

An Old Limestone "Venus" Figure at 33GU218 in Ohio


Limestone Venus Figure - Day's Knob Site (33GU218)

In April 2015 this limestone artifact was discovered eroding from a bank at approximately 25 cm below the current terrain surface (see in-situ photo below).

Limestone Venus Figure In Situ, 33GU218

Its front surface, face down in the photo, is carved and ground into an unmistakable human female form, while the back remains mostly unworked gray cortex.  Note the clear morphological similarity of the figure to the well known Neolithic and earlier "Venus" figures (unfortunate terminology that we're apparently stuck with), down to the breasts, defined pubic area, tapered (and laterally concave) base, and subparallel incised striations along the sides.  It seems likely that the pointed/curved base facilitated mounting the figure vertically into the ground.

Incised Lines on Limestone Venus Figure at 33GU218

Below, for comparison of the striations, the well known mammoth ivory Venus of Hohle Fels from near Schelklingen, Germany, from ca. 37,000 years BP:

Venus of Hohle Fels

The Ohio Venus is clearly  fashioned as a sharply pointed and bifacially edged blade tool, although it does not appear to have actually been used as such.  The piece's overall form, in addition to being that of a shapely human female, presents an ergonomic blade-with-handle configuration, the blending of utility and iconicity typical of the artifacts at this site.

Limestone "Venus" Figure as a Tool - 33GU218

As far as this author is aware, this is the first discovery in the western hemisphere of an ancient artifact in the classic Upper Palaeolithic Venus form.  Of course it may or may not be of pre-Holocene manufacture, but if not, it almost certainly represents the migration of an old and well established mental template from Eurasia to North America.

Above:  Side view of the lower part of the figure, showing a birdlike figure characteristic of this site.

The photos below show some less spectacular yet quite interesting smaller limestone artifacts that appeared in context with the "Venus".  Note that the incised lines on the bird-form piece are very much like those on the Venus figure.

Incised Limestone Bird-Form Figure at 33GU218

Incised Lines on Limestone Venus Figure at 33GU218


An incised hard and sharp backed limestone blade.  (It seems unlikely that the striations served a practical purpose, but these appear frequently on tools at this site.


Limestone Figure from 33GU218 in Ohio

In 2007 a much larger limestone "Venus"-like figure appeared at another area of this site, apparently having fallen from a rock ledge at the head of an artificial trench aligned to the winter solstice sunrise.  To see this, click on the image below:

Click to expand.


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