Women in prehistoric societies
Since the discovery of Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis), ethnological and paleontological studies have taken an interest in the relationships between men and women in prehistoric societies. Lucy was the first "star" of prehistory, identified as a woman. When the remains of seven individuals were found near the island of Java, the most intact skeleton was that of a woman. A new species was identified: Homo floresiensis. But unlike the Australopithecus afarensis nicknamed Lucy, the skeleton of Java was called Flores Man.
Women played an important economic and social role in prehistoric societies. They engaged in activities related to the transport and conversion of dead animals and were also active in harvesting and gathering.
Various feminine images have survived from prehistoric times: stylized vulvae, female silhouettes carved in rock, bodies sculpted in stone or bone, etc. These "Venus" figures give us the world's oldest versions of portraits of women. It was Joseph Szombathy, who exhumed a statuette of a woman in Willendorf, Austria in 1903, who originated this usage of the name of the Roman goddess of love. To call attention to the figure's exaggerated forms, he gave it the ironic title "The Venus of Willendorf," and the term has since been used for all feminine statuettes. Carved from mammoth ivory, bone or stone, they are known by a variety of names: Paleolithic Venuses, Aurignacian Venuses, Steatopygous Venuses, Fat Venuses, etc.