Stone age men had more of a ‘feminine side’ than their modern counterparts, according to a University of Manchester archaeologist.
Dr Karina Croucher has studied remains of Neolithic men and women who lived across the Middle East around 10,000 years ago.
Studying a ‘death pit’ of over 40 people, Dr Croucher believes it reveals a greater compassionate side in men, and less well defined gender boundaries.
Dr Croucher said: “It’s clear the relationship between men and women during the Neolithic Period does not conform to the modern age.
“The stereotypical and inaccurate view of male hunters dominating their more submissive female counterparts is an articulation of male bias in archaeology.
“It was much less well defined than that: men and women were treated equally in death and were shown equal compassion, and their tasks were likely to be thought of as equal during life.”
Among the 40 bodies in the South East Turkey ‘death pit’ was the body of a teenage girl, who the excavators have called ‘Kim’.
They believe Kim’s body was carefully tended to by both men and women, and was protected from scavengers.
Recreations of the faces of the dead were made in plaster on the skulls – and again it is believed this was not dependent on age or gender, rather on their relationships.
Dr Croucher added: “Our biases in the present were not relevant to our ancestors, and are not natural or inherent behaviours.
“So we should not understand the past in our own terms: it’s more about their relationships with each other; materials and animals."
The male bias in archaeology has distorted our understanding of how ancient peoples lived, Dr Croucher argues. Her new book on the subject is published by Oxford University Press.