[Paleopsych] Der Spiegel: Sex in the Stone Age: Pornography in Clay

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Sex in the Stone Age: Pornography in Clay
[You'll want to click on the URL to see the images!]

    By Matthias Schulz

    New pornographic figurines from the Stone Age have been discovered in
    Germany. But researchers can't agree on what the 7,000-year-old
    sculptures mean. Were our ancestors uninhibited sex fiends, or was
    reproduction strictly controlled to improve mobility? An increasing
    number of finds seem to indicate the Stone Age was an orgy of sexual

    [4]Beatrixe Klein from the Wiesbaden Women's Museum shows a replica of
    the "Venus of Saviagno" and of the "Venus of Willendorf."

    Beatrixe Klein from the Wiesbaden Women's Museum shows a replica of
    the "Venus of Saviagno" and of the "Venus of Willendorf."

    The project itself was far from extraordinary. Workers near the
    Eastern German city of Leipzig were digging a ditch for a new gas
    line. Hum drum. But what they discovered was far from routine. A
    backhoe unearthed a 7,200-year-old, Stone Age garbage pit -- and it
    was filled with refuse from some of the first farmers on the European
    continent. Moreover, upon rushing to the site, archeologists
    discovered an 8.2 centimeter (3.2 inches) clay torso buried
    underground. The legs, abdomen and head were missing, but, according
    to the lucky archeologists, the figure still had its most important
    features intact: a "well-shaped behind" and a "short, but impressive"
    Since its discovery on August 19, 2003, the partially intact "Adonis
    from Chernitz" -- as it has been dubbed -- has been creating quite a
    stir at the state office of archeology in Dresden. Sculptors have
    carefully recreated the curve of the figure's buttocks and other
    anatomical minutiae are also clearly visible. Archeologist Harald
    Staeuble is amazed at the detail.
    He's not the only one. The find is clearly a remarkable one -- and is
    the oldest clay figure ever found anywhere in the world.
    And the project is becoming ever more fascinating as archeologists
    continue uncovering additional fragments while sifting through the
    Stone Age garbage pit. One fragment, which extends from the left calf
    to the pelvis, appears to be part of a female statue; Adonis,
    apparently, had a girlfriend. In fact, in an article soon to be
    published in the journal Germania, Staeuble speculates on how the
    pieces could fit together. He writes that "there is strong evidence
    that this is a copulation scene."
    According to Staeuble, the fragments show that the man was standing
    with his pelvis at a slight angle. The woman in front of him was bent
    forward, almost at a 90-degree angle. Another indication that the two
    figures belong together is the fact that they are both made to the
    same scale -- both figures were originally just under 30 centimeters
    (11.7 inches) tall.

           [6]The fragments found in Chernitz may fit together like this.

    The fragments found in Chernitz may fit together like this.

    The only depictions of sexual activity known until now were Greek
    paintings, but they were created more than 4,000 years later. Given
    this enormous difference in time, the Saxony find has created some
    confusion. Some believe it was a toy. Archäo, a professional journal,
    speculates that it may have been "chic" to display these types of
    sculptures in the "houses of the first farmers between the Saale and
    Elbe rivers." Researchers speculate that the figure could also be
    evidence of a "fertility cult" -- a theory that sounds as
    straightforward as it is vague.
    When did humans become modest?
    This seemingly wild speculation is typical. When it comes to the love
    lives of our diluvial ancestors, scientists quickly start running out
    of ideas. The social behavior of early human beings was neglected for
    far too long, complains historian Angelika Dierichs. And there are a
    number of questions that have yet to be answered. When did man first
    become embarrassed by sexual activity? Who invented the incest taboo
    and the concept of monogamy in marriage? Did all the members of an
    extended family sleep in the same grass hut among the Neanderthals?
    Anyone able to answer these questions could unlock many of the sexual
    secrets of primeval times. But instead of finding answers, researchers
    are discovering more and more gaps, and the bed of Adam and Eve
    remains shrouded in mystery.
    But there has been some progress in the study of sexuality among early
    mankind. An archeological dig on the banks of Lake Constance has
    produced something just as spectacular as the erotic clay figures from
    Saxony. Researchers discovered a temple whose walls were once adorned
    with protruding clay breasts. The "cult temple," uncovered by
    archeologists from the southern German city of Ludwigshafen, is almost
    6,000 years old.
    The traveling exhibition titled "100,000 Years of Sex," which is
    currently making its way through Germany, also attempts to shed new
    light on our more distant ancestors. Some of the items on display
    include sexy underwear from the Bronze Age, ribald frescoes from
    Athens and cloth condoms that were dipped in milk.
    But how should researchers interpret these recent finds? The
    discoveries have reopened an old rift in the academic world, in which
    two camps are at odds over a fundamental issue. The question they're
    quarreling over is this: Did our ancestors live relaxed and
    uninhibited lives, or was asceticism the order of the day in the
    primeval age?
    The two sides of the debate are clearly defined: Socio-biologists
    believe that the early hominids were basically promiscuous, and that
    they spent their lives running around the fields and woods of their
    day, constantly in pursuit of sex, following the genetic dictates of
    their rampant hormones. The other side of the equation are those --
    sometimes referred to as "tabooists" -- who assume that even early man
    lived under a strict system of sexual abstinence, and that the sex
    lives of Neanderthal man were everything but orgiastic.
    Some believe Stone Age humans were prudes
    It's a dispute in which sharply contrasting worlds collide. The one
    camp paints scenarios of non-stop mating and cavorting. American
    anthropologist Helen Fisher believes that Stone Age women "were
    constantly disappearing into the bushes with different partners." The
    scenario portrayed by the other camp is quite the opposite.
    The miniature sex god from Saxony and the clay breasts from Lake
    Constance can likewise be interpreted in completely different ways,
    mirroring the differences between the two camps. According to the
    tabooists, these artworks were part of strictly regulated fertility
    rituals. Socio-biologists, on the other hand, see them as evidence
    that the early farmers had only one thing on their minds -- and that
    they were having sex with one another whenever they felt the urge.

    [8]A fresco from the public bath in Pompeii. When did humans first
    start making pornographic art?

    A fresco from the public bath in Pompeii. When did humans first start
    making pornographic art?

    The debate surrounding large, stone, 32,000-year-old, phallic objects
    from the Stone Age is especially heated. The one side believes they
    were dildos, to be inserted into the vagina for pleasure. The other
    interprets them as ritualistic tools that were used in the Ice Age to
    deflower virgins.
    The tabooists can turn to some important historical figures to find
    support for their theories. Charles Darwin, for example, believed that
    people once lived in "small hordes" led by chiefs who guarded all the
    women. "Given all that we known about jealousy," he writes, "a general
    mixing of the sexes in the natural state seems highly unlikely."
    Only the weak masturbated, Darwin believes
    Darwin theorizes that instead of lust and eroticism, the Early Stone
    Age was dominated by constant strife. The strongest men took harems,
    while the weaker males were homosexual or began (like the chimpanzees)
    to masturbate. Weaker males, according to the Darwin, could also have
    taken their revenge and murdered the leaders. Sigmund Freud believes
    that in order to put an end to permanent unrest and make living within
    a social community possible, upright man came up with the world's
    oldest moral law: totemism, a sort of early religion that associated a
    group with a specific symbol or set of symbols. Although this system
    helped bring about peace and orderliness, it also tended to impose a
    restrictive code of sexual abstinence on the individual.
    Even by as late as the 19th century, many primitive peoples in Africa
    and Australia still lived in totemistic communities and their
    interactions with one another were characterized by shyness and shame.
    In some tribes, a brother was not even permitted to call his sister by
    her name, and touching her was taboo. Marriage between two individuals
    in the same village was virtually impossible.
    The tabooists are convinced that man would never have risen to the top
    of the food chain if his lust and sexual appetite had not been curbed.
    They believe that orgiastic sexual behavior was only permitted as part
    of a ritual, and only on a few special days of the year. The tribes of
    the day would release the sexual energy and pressure they had
    accumulated in passionate orgies and feasts.

    [10]Scientists can't agree: Was the Stone Age a period of wild sex
    orgies or were they more reserved in their sexuality?

    Scientists can't agree: Was the Stone Age a period of wild sex orgies
    or were they more reserved in their sexuality?

    Exactly how we went from being animals to modest humans is still a
    subject of debate. Homo Erectus was already building small grass huts
    big enough to house between four and eight people 370,000 years ago.
    Clearly, there was no room for intimacy.
    So what did Homo Erectus do when he became aroused? Did he ask his
    wife for a quickie while the others were out gathering berries in the
    forest? Or did the shameless couple simply keep their hut-mates awake
    at night with their moans?
    According to Svend Hansen, a Berlin historian specializing in
    prehistory and early history, "strict sexual rules were already in
    place 40,000 years ago. In a society of hunters and gatherers, high
    birth rates were unwelcome." The reason? The fur-clad hunters of the
    Stone Ages spent their days traveling through the countryside in
    groups of 15 to 30 people -- for mothers, each baby represented an
    extra load to carry on their backs. Thus, it was necessary for nomadic
    groups to restrict fertility.
    In addition to "plant-based birth control agents and the use of taboos
    to control sexual activity," says Hansen, nomadic early man also
    resorted to bloodier means, like "abortion and infanticide."
    The result was that population levels remained stabile for tens of
    thousands of years. The only exceptions to tightly controlled sexual
    behavior happened during territorial disputes with neighboring clans.
    The "Venus" cult
    Nevertheless, even the tabooists do not deny that eroticism played a
    very important role among primitive man. They believe, however, that
    instead of constantly mating, Stone Age man tamed and "sublimated" his
    sexual desires, transforming them into art. And there is new evidence
    to support this theory: the famously buxom "Venus statuettes" from the
    Paleolithic. This cult was started 35,000 years ago among the first
    modern humans who advanced into a then cold Europe.
    They had hardly arrived on the European continent before they invented
    sculpture. Soon, love-stricken stonemasons began carving and hammering
    out nude and anatomically-correct figurines. More than 200 Venus
    statuettes are known today -- all of them plump beauties with ample
    hips and what would now qualify as double D cups. Some wear armbands
    or belts, further emphasizing their nakedness.
    The statues were long considered the equivalent of pin-up girls.
    Rudolf Feustel, a historian specializing in the prehistoric age,
    concluded that the artists' goal was to stimulate "raw animal lust."
    One of the figures -- a woman wearing armbands that look like shackles
    -- was even thought to represent an S&M slave.
    This kind of evidence is practically tailor-made for the
    socio-biologists, who say that these sculptures prove just how
    uninhibited life around the campfire used to be. But were these
    Rubenesque dolls really made for pornographic purposes? New studies
    suggest that the women depicted in the figurines were not merely
    plump, but pregnant. The Venus of Monpazier, France, has an opened
    vulva. In another figure, the stomach is arched downward and a small
    object appears to be emerging from the womb -- the moment of birth.
    In other words, instead of intending to elicit arousal, the statuettes
    were apparently objects of worship, earth mothers, symbols of
    fertility and creators of life.
    The sculptures are highly detailed. Some even have pubic hair, curly
    coiffeurs and large navels -- Ice Age masterpieces.

    Much is known about how Neanderthals hunted. But what were their
    sex-lives like?

    Nevertheless, the fact that the men of the Gravettien culture (30,000
    to 24,000 years ago) worshipped pregnancy was probably based on a lack
    of knowledge. The men simply "did not comprehend the biological
    function of sex," believes Jill Cook of the British Museum in London.
    To the men of that period, the fact that the female body would
    periodically swell up until a screaming baby would emerge from the
    woman's lap was nothing less than astonishing. What a miracle!
    Aside from the act of procreation itself, the men appeared to be
    uninvolved in the process, which only enhanced their reverence for
    mothers. The whole thing, says Cook, had nothing to do with lust.
    An explosion of sexuality
    But soon the men did become involved. The Venus cult came to an end
    about 20,000 years ago, to be replaced by a new motif, that of "mixed
    images," a term that refers to the mixed portrayal of male and female
    The walls of the La Marche cave in western France are literally
    blanketed with erotic images, 14,000-year-old drawings reminiscent of
    the Kamasutra. One image of a head plunging between a woman's thighs
    seems to portray oral sex. Another shows a standing couple, their
    bodies entwined, while the man's penis penetrates his partner. But
    these graffiti-like images can hardly be seen as proof of unbridled
    love in the Paleolithic Age. They are scribbled onto the walls of the
    cave with little skill and are reminiscent of bathroom graffiti,
    almost as if a lonely Fred Flintstone had etched out his erotic
    fantasies with a primitive chisel.
    But these cave drawings are still tremendously important. Many
    researchers see them as the beginning of a new age -- an age in which
    man, surrounded by slowly melting glaciers and on the verge of become
    settled, had recognized the connection between conception and birth.
    This, they believe, explains the emerging focus on the sexual act.
    The Adonis of Chernitz has only reinforced these theories. The penis
    of the clay figure, fired at more than 600°C (315°F), is oversized,
    and triangles are etched into the buttocks -- possibly meant to
    portray tattoos.
    The sculptor must have been familiar with the concept of procreation.
    He lived in an earthy settlement of thatched-roof cottages and the
    village's animal pens were filled with cows and pigs, which were
    already being deliberately bred by selection.
    Wild, drunken orgies
    Though all that remains of the female figure are the thighs, the
    fracture line shows that above the legs the figure arched upward into
    balloon-like buttocks. Harald Staeuble conjectures that the
    30-centimeter-tall figures were displayed in an elevated, sacred
    location. After all, they were deliberately broken and thrown into the
    trash to destroy their "magical power."
    But what fertility festival was being celebrated when the statues were
    broken? Ethnic groups in Africa were known to have copulated in corn
    fields to encourage the crops to grow. And among the groups that
    developed band ceramics 7,000 years ago, everything revolved around
    sowing, growing and harvesting.
    But perhaps the idols were also the focal point of a sort of carnival,
    a drunken orgy in which Europe's first farmers would let off steam.
    The mysterious ancient temple on the banks of Lake Constance proves
    that special erotic rituals already existed at this early juncture,
    long before Egypt's pyramids were built. "The cult building stood on
    pylons directly on the shore," explains archeologist Helmut
    Schlichtherle. The interior was painted with white dots. But the
    site's truly unique feature is that eight large clay breasts seemed to
    grow out of the walls, evoking images of a place devoted to the
    There is more evidence that the temple was once a place filled with
    billowing smoke and ecstasy. Bits of fabric, perhaps parts of priestly
    robes, were found. Also among the rubble was an imposing ceremonial
    vessel filled with birch resin, a substance that produces a bewitching
    scent when heated. Perhaps birch resin was the incense of the Stone
    Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan


    4. http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/spiegel/0,1518,grossbild-43515-350042,00.html
    5. http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/spiegel/0,1518,grossbild-43515-350042,00.html
    6. http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/spiegel/0,1518,grossbild-456299-350042,00.html
    7. http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/spiegel/0,1518,grossbild-456299-350042,00.html
    8. http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/spiegel/0,1518,grossbild-429599-350042,00.html
    9. http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/spiegel/0,1518,grossbild-429599-350042,00.html
   10. http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/spiegel/0,1518,grossbild-429603-350042,00.html
   11. http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/spiegel/0,1518,grossbild-429603-350042,00.html

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