Culture Human evolution Intelligent Design

Did fatness rule the Stone Age?

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Venus von Willendorf 01.jpg
Willendorf Venus/Matthias Kabel

Sapiens is an interesting new mag and podcast that tries to make paleontology, archaeology, and anthropology interesting and relevant. Hence, a look at the current concerns about obesity—now worldwide due to the spread of media—from a Stone Age perspective (think Willendorf Venus, 28,000 BCE – 25,000 BCE).

Not all Stone Age Venus figurines, of which 200 have been found, were fat. But then there were the Fat Ladies of Malta

The Venus figurines, the Fat Ladies of Malta, and the Fat Lord and Frog suggest that some fat people were held in high esteem in past cultures and that the societies from which they emerged may have believed that fatness is goodness—or at least that there is nothing wrong with being fat.

I suspect some degree of fatness has been present in all human societies, except for those on the brink of survival or living in truly extreme environments. I suspect that obese people have been sometimes revered, sometimes reviled, and perhaps sometimes just accepted without shame. But recent ethnographic research in Fiji and elsewhere strongly suggests that cultural attitudes toward fatness are less diverse now than they were in the past.STEPHEN E. NASH, “Who Decided It Was Bad to Be Fat?” at Sapiens

It doesn’t seem as though much has changed over 25 millennia except that many more people have much more to eat. So fatness wouldn’t signify success in more modern cultures.

What’s really fascinating is that, with so much more archaeology, we know so much more about the past.

See also: Toxic Snow Has Claimed Stone Age Artwork: Willendorf Venus Banned From Facebook


Larry Moran Asks Whether Evolutionary Psychology Is A “Deeply Flawed” Enterprise (genuine, non-banned Willendorf Venus content)

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