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Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Beakerquality for Stonehenge

Determination of the sex of remains of people buried at Stonehenge reveals surprising gender equality, according to the BBC.

Quite why gender equality is surprising is an interesting question. Because we assume the original Beaker Folk were a bunch of sexist monsters and oppressed women, I guess. Equal numbers by gender I suppose might also imply monogamy, and thereby a generally equal society where powerful men don't get all the wives.
But you see our assumptions already working. I'm presuming that the more important people got buried at Stonehenge, or a priestly caste - same thing, I would argue. Otherwise equal numbers would imply just that there were equal numbers who just got buried. So I'm making my own assumptions here.
Are you there, Audrey?

There's plenty of other explanations. Maybe the chiefs were buried, and only their main wives. That wouldn't be so equal. Or they killed a wife specially if the chief died. Maybe there was a Neolithic mortuary wife-swapping ritual where men were buried with somebody else's wife.

It all shows the dangers of assumptions in reading ourselves or our opposites into the past. The 
archaeologists of the 19th and early 20th Century believed that the Greeks, Romans or Mycenaeans had built Stonehenge - great empires bringing civilisation and pointless buildings to ignoble savages.

I often wonder how come archaeological reports often refer to "the remains of an individual in good health." If you think someone whose skeletal remains have been buried in a ditch near Hadrian's Wall for 1900 years is in good health, I bet you never go to the doctor till it's too late. But that's by the by.

If you ask me, most of the female remains in the Aubrey Holes are of female Archdruids and a few select friends. The males are butlers, specially chosen to carry the Archdruids' bags in the Afterlife. Equality? I don't think so.

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