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Misgendered Skeleton Changes Views on Prehistoric Women


The 1995 discovery that an important Paleolithic skeleton was actually a woman changed how historians perceived the role of our foremothers in ancient societies. No longer relegated solely to the home and hearth, it is now understood that ancient women were also hunter-gatherers and held prominent positions of importance within their communities.


- When the remains were found in 1872, experts were quick to label the skeleton as male.

Their assumption was typical of the time, when scientists were almost exclusively men.

For more than a century, the assumption remained fact.

- We have to think back to a society, in the 19th century, when women were not highly regarded.

The women were at home, and men played all the important economic and social roles.

So naturally it was assumed, that rules were similar in the paleolithic era.

That it was solely the male hunter who advanced society.

The female was simply forgotten.

We did not talk about her.

And if she was mentioned, she was simply the homebody, who took care of the children.

- But in 1995, scientist Marie Antoinette Allume Lee, took a closer look, at the pelvic bone.

Usually quite delicate and rarely found intact.

This one was well-preserved, and led to an astonishing realization.

- My wife, Mary Antoinette Allume Lee, while clearing the skeleton, which was kept at the Museum De Alum, noticed that the iliac bone had an enlarged cavity, and that this was, in fact, a woman.

- This curve indicates the width of the human pelvis.

A woman's pelvis is larger than a man's, to facilitate childbirth.

The specific shape of the pelvis of this strong seemingly important person indicated it belonged to a woman.

The discovery stunned the world of paleontology.

It defied long-standing presumptions, that hunter men were the sole leaders, of prehistoric societies, and the belief that, they were their tribes primary providers, to whom we owe the survival of our species.

- What is implied here is that of hominization, is based on hunting.

Then that means the male was solely responsible.

In other words, that the female did not have a role, in the evolution of humanity.

- Can science lead to a better understanding, of prehistoric homo sapiens women?


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