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by Archaeology Newsroom

Iconography of the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. The (deceptive) rarity of the male presence

The more one stands back from the present, the more difficult it becomes to interpret a long forgotten reality. Time lapses are multiplied due to more recent memories intervening and to the automatisms gained, which unconsciously affect even the most objective researcher of the past. Thus, it is only natural that the works of art, images of this reality, present even more difficulties in their interpretation.If, in theory, the identification of the human figure, whether male or female, should be a relatively easy task, the archaeological material itself does not cease to pose new questions. Indeed, a multitude of human figures from the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age do not reveal their sex, while others, very rare ones, are hermaphrodite or hybrid beings with zoomorphic features. And we are referring only to the more obvious human representations and not to the numerous male and female symbols, which already in the Palaeolithic period have been painted or incised —along with realistic everyday scenes— on cave walls and transportable finds, everywhere in Europe.