A document to deconstruct cliches about prehistoric women

profession by Alexis LeBron May 31, 2022

Our ancestors have long been seen as minor prehistoric figures, in a much more subtle way thanks to the advances of science. Advances presented in this National Geographic documentary led by videographer and archeology graduate Kilthilde Chamusy, which also allow us to question these stereotypes about prehistoric women.

Centuries of ideas received

It is now well documented, and the role of women in history has often been underestimated. It is therefore not surprising that this reduction began with the most distant historical period. Thus, if we are to believe the most prevalent clichés about prehistoric women, the latter were always fragile creatures hidden at the bottom of caves almost only to care for children, while men apparently collect hats: hunting, picking, hats. Drawing course.

Moreover, these received ideas are so deeply rooted in people’s minds that they were not questioned until recently. Yes, but science is now developing, and it is now shedding a different light on prehistoric women.

Many discoveries

Chlotilde Chamussy (from YouTube channel wild past), for example, to meet the paleoanthropologist Marie Antoinette de Lumley, who explains why the skeleton of what we now call Lady Cavilon is attributed to the “Menton Man”. Since his grave was filled with valuables, it seemed unimaginable not to recognize him as a man. An indisputable mistake today, because it was enough to look at the bones of his pelvis to understand that she is, in fact, a woman. Archaeologist Caroline Tremaud leads the dot home with the grave of Lady Vicks buried with merchandise of value that must have been part of the elite. The elite that was not accessible to women. And if in the past alleged skeletons were automatically associated with men without studying them, now this is no longer the case.

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And so we see in the documentary Chlotilde Chamussy she does a study on the skeleton of high-ranking female athletes, where we see that more athletic women have thicker bones. However, many of the female prehistoric skeletons are more than that, which means that these women could engage in very physical activities such as hunting. The hypothesis was confirmed by the American archaeologist and anthropologist Randall Haas, who discovered in South America a female skeleton accompanied by weapons intended for hunting. The documentary shows that famous prehistoric paintings are not necessarily the work of men, by analyzing the shape of some details that could have been made only with female joints.

erasure assets

But why then were prehistoric women so systematically underestimated in specialized books? If we are to believe some of the speakers, researchers have somewhat consciously adopted a biased view of the activities of these women due to the gruesome sexual mores of the time in which they lived.

According to the prehistorian Marlene Bateau Matisse, they also applied everywhere the model of other hunters and gatherers without trying to distinguish according to places and times. Rough facility among other things, fortunately identified and repaired today.

Prehistoric womenNational Geographic documentary available with CANAL+.

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