Birth of the gods
5,000 years ago, people in Europe began erecting stone stelae in the shape of humans. These monuments were likenesses of ancestors that served to unify and nourish the village community through rituals, and legitimised land ownership.
Humans. Carved in Stone
17.09.2021 16.01.2022 / National Museum Zurich
6,000 years ago, people in Europe started erecting large stone sculptures. These sculptures were in the shape of women and men with faces and arms, hairstyles and even tattoos. They also carried or wore highly desirable items such as weapons, jewellery or clothing that depicted the innovations of their time. But the stelae were also symbols of power and status, and were used for ancestor worship and rituals. These likenesses were created in an age when people were increasingly engaging in agriculture and animal husbandry, coming together in village communities and beginning to use metal. The temporary exhibition in the National Museum Zurich’s extension wing brings together stelae from a number of European countries, including new finds from the cantons of Zurich and Valais, and offers a unique insight into the world of people in the Neolithic period.