Tag Archives: Stone Age

In which some cave paintings set me off.

16 Sep

So there was a neat article that popped up in my RSS reader from the London Times, about how there’s been some speculation that the cave paintings at Pech-Merle are not all by dudes! The article is here, and this is pretty interesting stuff, but there is a lot in that article that is…not exactly irritating, but kind of weird and off-putting, pretty much from the first paragraph.

Cave art seems always to have been thought of, for no especially good reason, as the work of men.

Okay, that’s fair enough, I guess? I never thought much about it one way or the other, but I guess that’s as good an opening for an article about ladies doing cave-paintings as any.

Perhaps it is because much of the art lies in deep, dark caverns,

Wait, what? Is there any way anyone can find to interpret this that does not boil down to “this is why we figure dudes made them, because everyone knows ladies are afraid of the dark”? Any way at all?

or because many of the paintings and engravings are of large food animals such as mammoth and bison, which men might be supposed to have hunted.

Wait, what? Because…ancient ladies would’ve been completely divorced from the process of hunting, if they weren’t hunting those animals themselves? If they weren’t the ones out there killing the big tough animals like the manly men were, there is no way they could possibly have known what those animals looked like? Seriously, dude, I do not understand what you are saying here.

Cartoons have often suggested that women played a part, however, with the animals shown as a shopping list, or as home décor.

I recognize that this is not meant to be lending sexist cartoons the same weight as actual scholarship, let alone saying that those cartoons may be right, but I don’t know, man, something about this sentence is still just rubbing me the wrong way. That might just be that it’s hard to get sarcasm across in print, though.

Handprints are not found in all, or indeed most, caves, however, and since many are those of men, it is so far impossible to say firmly which if any of the great animal friezes in caves such as Lascaux or Chauvet might be women’s work.

NONE OF THE IMPORTANT STUFF WAS BY LADIES, RIGHT? RIGHT?

While Professor Snow’s research shows that we cannot rule out either sex in any cave as the world’s first muralists, no doubt cartoonists will find in his findings a fertile new field for their humour.

IN CASE YOU DIDN’T CATCH IT THE FIRST TIME, LADIES LIKE TO DECORATE THINGS AND GO SHOPPING, AND THAT’S PRETTY HILARIOUS. Like, seriously, though, if cartoonists have already been making jokes about cave paintings being ~ladythings~, what the heck is finding out that these paintings may actually have been made by women going to accomplish? The jokes have already been made, and instead if you are the type of person who says that the only reason an ancient woman would’ve painted something would’ve been by way of a) decorating or b) nagging, JUST LIKE THOSE ARE THE ONLY THING LADIES ARE GOOD FOR NOW, AMIRITE OR AMIRITE, you instead are probably just going to cite this as proof of that. If, meanwhile, you are genuinely interested in this finding, you will probably just get irritated at how clumsily-written this article is.

In which I run the risk of bewildering people…

14 Sep

…with my love for ancient stone axes. Specifically, in this case, a number of stone axes found in the Kalahari Desert, in the dry lake basin of Lake Makgadikgadi. As you can see from the picture along with the article, they are pretty big. The picture also looks like they’re made of flint—if not, something relatively soft you can flake away, because those have definitely been flaked. Mostly I mention this Totally Fascinating Piece Of Information because I spent a semester cataloging flint tools at the British Museum and it’d be nice to think that didn’t go to waste in the interval while I’m saving up for grad school.

Even if you’re not kind of a dork about Stone Age flint tools, this is pretty exciting. Professor Thomas of Oxford University explains that “the interior of southern Africa has usually been seen as being devoid of significant archaeology,” but they’ve found a bunch of artifacts around the lake dating from the Stone Age.

Also, in response to a request from reader lyndseyjenkins, I saw my way to making an About page! I am not sure exactly what is supposed to go on these, since I figured no one would be that interested in me in particular. If there is anything essential that I’m missing from that (or you think I’d be a valuable addition to your workplace), let me know!