Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Another Prehistoric Woman
The male bias in science presumes that the humnaoid fossils we find are male.
The fact is that now more often than not they are found to be women continues to be revealed as in the case of Our Lady of Flores and now in China with the Jinniushan fossil.
Women built the ancient cities in the era of agriculture, and in earlier eras built, lived and died in the dwelling places such as caves. Cave art, ceremonial and ritual areas have been defined in terms of men, as hunter gathers rather than as being the social realm of women.
In one famous case a shamans staff with notches in it was mistakenly identified by Mircea Eliade, the historian of religion and author of Shamanism, as being a male warrior shamans power stick. It was later found that the notches coincided with the lunar cycle, and womens mensturation cycles, it was in fact a woman shamans magick wand.
(See: William Irwin Thompson, The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality, and the Origins of Culture New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981)
Such is the case today with the revelation that Jinniushan was a woman.
Based on what they had, scientists' best guess was that brain size was increasing relative to body size during the Pleistocene. The Jinniushan specimen bears this out: her brain was large for her body size, even though she was larger-bodied than more primitive peoples. In fact, the lady from Jinniushan is the biggest woman yet found from the Pleistocene, weighing in at an estimated 173 pounds or so and standing some five feet tall. This led some researchers to classify her as a male specimen, but the shape of her pelvis suggests differently. "If we use modern sexing criteria, it looks clearly female," Rosenberg says. The size and apparent strength of the Jinniushan woman may have been an adaptation to a cold climate.
The reassessment of the sex of ancient humanoid fossils and the increasing number of them being female could lead one to suspect that the idea of ancient matriarchical origins of society is not so far fetched as some male chauvinist detractors claim.
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