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The Adonis of Zschernitz
the first male clay figurine
A special exhibition by the Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte (Dresden, D)
Alone between women...
August 19, 2003 won't be forgotten by the archeologists in Sakson. That day, there were excavations by scientists of the "Landesamtes für Archäologie" on the premises of MITGAS GmbH, to make a new gaspipeline possible near Zschernitz, Neukyhna in the province Delitzsch. One finding excited everyone present. It appeared to be a clay figurine of 7000 years old, which showed a male figure. After some research, it appeared to be the oldest known male clay figurine of Europe.
The archaeologists could hardley believe their eyes, when the torso saw daylight. Still, clay figurines are known since the Late Stone Age, but they represent mostly females with large breasts and wide hips. Soon it became clear that the finding represented a complete new artifact in the world of neolithic clay figurines, because it was unmistakenly male, which was unique.
Until now, the appearence of male figurines were suspected in the Early Stone Age, but there was no proof. This lack has now been filled: the figure is the oldest male clay figurine in Europe.
The frequently used name "venus" for the female figurines lead soon to the name "Adonis of Zschernitz" for this small statue. He is now standing alone between just women ...
The about 8cm high remaining torso is not only very large - the complete figure was probably about 25cm high. The anatomic details are also very detailed and remove all known findings to the background. Even the decoration on the back weren't forgotten by the artist (m/f). The rest of the figurine is naked, therefore the incisions should represent tattoos.
This sensation of 2003 gives us a better look on the fascinating and exotic art of the neolithic between 5500 and 4000 B.C.E.. For the very first time all figurines from Sakson of this era have been exhibited together. Between the more than 30 items is also the elegant formed "Venus of Zauschwitz".
This exhibiton therefore offers a wide look of a past world that seems odd, but at the same time very familiar because of its fascinating art.
The female figurines with large breasts, the pots that are decorated with human and animal forms and the pottery with human-like incisions brings us to a spiritual world, that intrigues the scientists since ages. Because many questions still remain. Do the majority of female figurines represent a fertility cult? Why weren't there any male figurines until now? Are they mighty goddesses of a matriarchic past, that didn't allowed men near them?
The magic of the ancient statues still shows a force, even today. Its tradition goes from the prehistory through all history.
The exhibition can only be visited in the MITGAS factory. The gas corporation has made possible the archaeologic research, as well as the exhibition and the following publications:
Adonis von Zschernitz. Die Kunst der ersten Bauern. Archaeonaut 4. Hrsg. Landesamt für Archäologie Sachsen. Dresden 2004. € 3,90
Von Peißen nach Wiederitzsch. Archäologie an einer Erdgas Trasse. Hrsg. MITGAS, Landesamt für Archäologie Sachsen, Landesamt für Archäologie Sachsen-Anhalt. Gröbers 2004. € 12,50
The publications are available through the exhibition and via the book stores.
Archaeological Heritage Service and State Museum for Prehistory
Zur Wetterwarte 7
Tel: +49 351 8926 - 603
Fax: +49 351 8926 - 999