Saturday, April 9, 2011

Er, "Gay Caveman?"

LOL!  I couldn't resist posting this.  Really!  What newspapers won't do these days with misleading headlines in order to garner readership.  Ha! 

From The Montreal Gazette Online
'Gay Caveman' not definitely gay nor caveman, say archaeologists
By Mike Barber, Postmedia News April 8, 2011
Photo (c) Europics. Y-M-C-Cave: The skeleton was found in a
Prague suburb with its head pointing eastwards and surrounded by
domestic jugs - rituals only previously seen in female graves. Men would
normally be buried with weapons, hammers and flint knives
The discovery of a 5,000-year-old skeleton that was buried in a peculiar way has researchers suggesting the prehistoric man found outside modern-day Prague could have been gay or transsexual.

But archaeologists and anthropologists are urging those in the media who have dubbed the skeleton a "gay caveman" not to rush to any neanderthal-like assumptions.

Kamila Remisova Vesinova, a researcher with the Czech Archaeological Society, has said the male skeleton is believed have been a member of the Corded Ware culture, which proliferated in northern Europe between 2500 and 2900 BCE.

Corded Ware societies were known for burying men with their heads facing west and with weapons of war, typically a battle axe. But this find was positioned facing east and surrounded by domestic items, such as the pots from which the culture takes its name — the same way women from the society were buried.

The archeologists have speculated that this could mean these are the remains of a homosexual or transsexual man.

"From history and ethnology, we know that people from this period took funeral rites very seriously, so it is highly unlikely that this positioning was a mistake," Vesinova told a news conference announcing the discovery.

"So we think, based on data, that it could be a member of a so-called third gender, which were people either with different sexual orientation or transsexuals or just people who identified themselves differently from the rest of the society."

British newspapers, such as the Daily Mail and the Telegraph, jumped on Vesinova's comments as proof that archaeologists had found a "gay caveman," despite the fact the term "cavemen" typically refers to Neanderthals who lived 30,000 years ago.

Vesinova's team uncovered a single-room building at the dig site just outside of Prague, suggesting the society had clearly moved beyond living in caves.

As for suggestion the man was gay, experts say that isn't set in stone either. Kristina Killgrove, an anthropologist and archaeologist at the University of North Carolina, wrote on her blog, Bone Girl, that the burial site isn't necessarily proof of any sexual orientation.

"Just because all the burials you've found to date are coded male and female based on grave goods doesn't mean there aren't alternate forms you haven't found and doesn't mean that the alternate form you have found has a lot of significance," she wrote.

"If this burial represents a transgendered individual (as well it could), that doesn't necessarily mean the person had a 'different sexual orientation' and certainly doesn't mean that he would have considered himself (or that his culture would have considered him) 'homosexual'."

Rosemary Joyce, an anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who focuses on sex and gender in archeology, said there simply isn't enough proof to conclude anything about the skeleton's sexual identity. With no other burial sites having been attributed to third-sex individuals from that society, "in cultural milieu where burials normally fall into two groups based on position and grave goods, they have uncovered an anomalous burial."

Instead, Joyce suggested that the true sign of a burial site for a third-sexed individual probably wouldn't simply be a conflation of those for men and women, but rather a third format distinguishable from men and women altogether.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

After reading this article, the first question that came to mind was "are they sure the skeleton is a male?"  Then I wondered if this person might not be some kind of magical person or shaman figure - they were always a little bit "strange."  We need more information and further research before jumping to conclusions. What I would like to know if there are records of other unusual burials similar to this from elsewhere in the world?  Too bad there isn't a universal database available for this type of thing.  What a boon it would be to archaeologists and anthropologists. 

Coverage:

From the telegraph.co.uk
First homosexual caveman found
Archaeologists have unearthed the 5,000-year-old remains of what they believe may have been the world's oldest known gay caveman.
10:00PM BST 06 Apr 2011

From the dailymail.co.uk
The oldest gay in the village: 5,000-year-old is 'outed' by the way he was buried
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:35 AM on 8th April 2011

1 comment:

carlos lascoutx said...

...this fellow may have been a water-seller. the large olla on his back with smaller dispensing jar scoop.
facing east may have meant he made his rounds at break of day when the cooking fires were being lit by the women(rattle those pots and pans).
i.e., comoni(Nauatl)=light the breakfast fire,=commotion(fire drill), and, at the same time may
have bartered fish he caught.
his river, the Donau/Duna/Tuna/
Tonatiuh procedes to the East
as well. if he made his living from the Solar Tona-tiuh river then he
would follow it in Death=Tetl(N).
Warriors follow the Sun west.
he appears robust enough for the job. also he has his arms wrapped around himself as if carrying.

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