‘gay caveman’ update

Caveman(With thanks to Jack Sasson’s Agade mailing list.)

It turns out that the ‘gay caveman’ reported earlier this month may not be ‘gay’ or a ‘caveman’.

A new report states that some scholars have questioned the findings:

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’.”

I seem to remember raising similar questions:

However, Katerina Semradova, another member of the team, conceded that the reverse has also been found: the same team previously unearthed a female from the Mesolithic period who was buried in the fashion of a man. So do these burials represent position in a society (i.e., wealth, status, etc.) or sexual orientation? Could it be a mixup? (It’s unlikely, but possible.) Beyond that, could it have been an intersexual individual (possessing both sexual organs, with a skeleton that researchers would interpret as male, but who was gendered as a female while alive?) And why can’t a straight male work in the domestic realm in antiquity like many straight males do today? Are the scholars playing into ‘ancient’ scholarly stereotypes by assuming that men only worked in non-domestic arenas? And if the researchers are assuming a male/female stereotype, why not conclude that the male was somehow being punished by those who buried him, for instance, for exhibiting what they might consider to be “cowardice,” say, for refusing to fight in a battle? (Or, do the researchers assume that the use of ‘male’ and ‘female’ labels and discrimination/persecution of homosexual individuals is merely a modern phenomenon)? To conclude the individual was gay may be superimposing a lot of modern stereotypes upon an ancient culture.

So, maybe the initial sensational report isn’t all it was cracked up to be?

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