Wednesday, September 9, 2009
This is the sort of ridiculous article with absolutely no scientific merit that millions of people will end up believing. So sad. Shame on you Mr. David Derbyshire - if that is your real name. Shame, shame on you for putting your name to this drek! (Image: The 9000-year-old figurines dug up in Turkey are thought to have been used as educational toys - from article. Do these look like dudes to you?) Ancient figurines were toys not mother goddess statues, say experts as 9,000-year-old artefacts are discovered By David Derbyshire Last updated at 12:57 AM on 10th September 2009 They were carved out of stone and squeezed out of clay 9,000 years ago, at the very dawn of civilisation. Now archaeologists say these astonishing Stone Age statues could have been the world's first educational toys. Nearly 2,000 figures have been unearthed at Catalhoyuk in Turkey - the world's oldest known town - over the last few decades. The most recent were found just last week. Made by Neolithic farmers thousands of years before the creation of the pyramids or Stonehenge, they depict tiny cattle, crude sheep and flabby people. In the 1960s, some researchers claimed the more rotund figures were of a mysterious large breasted and big bellied "mother goddess", prompting a feminist tourism industry that thrives today. But modern day experts disagree. They say the "mother goddess" figures - which were buried among the rubbish of the Stone Age town - are unlikely to be have been religious icons. Many of the figures thought to have been women in the 1960s, are just as likely to be men. Archaeologist Prof Lynn Meskell, of Stanford University, said: "The majority are cattle or sheep and goats. They could be representatives of animals they were dealing with - and they could have been teaching aides. "All were found in the trash - and they were not in niches or platforms or placed in burials." Out of the 2,000 figurines dug up at the site, less than five per cent are female, she told the British science Festival in Surrey University, Guildford. [And how many were male???] "These are things that were made and used on a daily basis," she said. "People carried them around and discarded them." Catalhoyuk is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. Established around 7,000 BC, it was home to 5,000 people living in mud brick and plaster houses. Their buildings were crammed so tightly together, the inhabitants clambered over the roofs and used ladders to get into their homes. The town dwellers were early farmers who had domesticated a handful of plants and kept wild cattle for meat and milk. Cattle horns were incorporated into the walls of their homes. The town contains the oldest murals - paintings on plastered walls. Unlike later towns, there is no obvious hierarchy - no homes for priests or leaders, no temples and no public spaces. The dead were buried in spaces under homes, rather than in cemeteries. Some researchers believe it was an equalitarian society. The town survived for around 2,000 years. It is not known what happened to its inhabitants, but they may have been killed by invaders or driven away by the loss of nearby farmland. ************************************************************************************* Ahem - so what if the "majority" of the little clay artifacts found were of sheep and cattle? What has THAT to say about the female figurines that were discovered at Catalhoyuk? Short answer: Nothing. It is well known to anyone who has read practically anything about the excavations at Catalhoyuk that both male and female figurines were excavated there, something the article does NOT mention, but I understand the findings were the ratio of female to male figures was much greater, also something the article does NOT mention. It is also well established that not only at Catalhoyuk, but at many sites excavated in the Middle East and in Greece (and perhaps elsewhere in the world, I just cannot think of them at the moment, but it's late and I'm not a professor of archaeology so these facts do not come as readily to my mind as pawn to e4) thousands of figurines were "sacrificed" as votive offerings to goddesses (and gods, too), often (but not always) smashed and thrown into pits that were conveniently situated at central places of worship. Catalhoyuk people worshipped within their homes. It makes sense that such sacrificed offerings would be found in the middens and garbage pits of the homes! This isn't anything new. In looking at the figurines in the image in the article, my inexpert eyes - and common sense - say at least three of the four are females, for these reasons: -- Three of the four are holding their hands under their breasts - a well-known pose that travelled down through the millennia to depictions of Astarte, Asherah and Aphrodite, to name just a few goddesses who struck similar poses. The fourth figure, on the far left, is either resting its arms along its sides or could, perhaps, be supporting its stomach (very much like a heavily pregnant woman does), but the hands are not visible, and so it is inconclusive. I would like to see a photo of that figurine from the side - to see whether there is a baby-bulge. -- There are no penises on any of the figurines shown in the image. Men have penises. No penis - not a man. Unless someone wants to argue that these were "instructional toys" about eunuchs? -- Why use flabby models? Weren't there any buff 20-somethings around if "instructional toys" were the goal? It is well known, however (I could teach a college course on this) that women who were heretofore buff start to "spread" once menopause hits. It then becomes a losing battle against "pinch an inch." -- Surely no one in his or her right mind is going to suggest that the figurine excavated at Catalhoyuk of a quite buxom and hefty female figure sitting upon a throne flanked by two felines (some say the figurine is in the process of giving birth) is a MAN. Just take a look at her, and compare the figurines shown in the photo in the article, and draw your own conclusions as to their femaleness. I could go on - but you get the idea. One final thought for the night -- who are the other archaeologists mentioned in the article who support this er, reinterpretation of the archeological evidence? Are there any? If so, why weren't they named? Is this just puffery?