The wonders of women in rock art

Art meets science to bring the Lascaux cave to life. Photo: Sci-Bono Discovery Centre

For decades people have imagined that cave and rock art was created exclusively by men. Not so, it seems.

A study by the Pennsylvania State University to determine the sex of the painters all those years ago came to a different conclusion. The focus of the study centred around eight caves sites in France and Spain. By studying handprints in cave art, archaeologists have determined that many European cave artists were female.

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Not knowing whether the Lascaux cave artists were men or women adds to the mystique and wonder of the cave art that’s on show at the SciBono Discovery Centre in Newtown until the end of September.

“Our modern gender stereotypes have been, and continue to be, imposed on how we think about the past,” said Dr Tammy Hodgskiss, curator at the Wits University Origins Centre.

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Hodgskiss pointed out that South African rock art depicts both men and women and this tells us that women and men played equally important roles in communities.

Dr More Chakane, CEO at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, added that the intrigue and the attraction of the exhibition rest on the mystery around the artwork.

“The Lascaux exhibition, on show for us to examine and marvel over today, is an awe-inspiring piece of work that leaves us wondering about many, many things. While we may never know the answers to our questions, the work stands – and will always stand – as a testament to the genius and creativity of humanity,” Chakane said.

  AUTHOR
Staff Reporter

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