Lock up your Daughters: Sex and Violence in Neolithic Europe

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posted on Jul, 8 2013 @ 03:14 PM
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Farming arrived in Central Europe sometime around 5500 BC, spreading with relative rapidity along the river valleys, forming settlements on the fine, silty Loess soils that were easy to till, fertile and productive. This distinct branch of the farming package has been dubbed the Linearbandkermik or LBK for short, after the designs etched into their pottery. Certain aspects of this culture, and it’s development, have led it to be supposed that knowledge of farming was passed along the established trade routes and that farming was first adopted by the Mesolithic peoples who inhabited the major routes on which trade moved; the rivers Danube, Rhine and Oder and not by migrations from pioneer farmers moving in from the south.

This view was challenged in 2010 with the publications of the results of a major genetic study that compared DNA from Neolithic burials with modern populations. According to the results of Y-chromosomal examination almost all of the modern European population is descended from the first farmers of the fertile crescent. That, though, was just the genetic material passed from father to son, the MtDNA study held another story. Here researchers found that the first farmers had had very little impact.

Reporting this study the press joked that the Mesolithic women must have found farmers ‘sexy’ insinuating that Mesolithic man had lost out in the sexual selection stakes. Elsewhere, it has been opined that the farmers traded goods for local women, or that the women were drawn to the ‘easy life’ that farming offered. None of these explanations though seem to adequately account for the almost eradication of the palaeolithic male line.


The BBC's undeniably sexy artistic impression of Neolithic Man

Excavations, such as that at Lepenski Vir have revealed that the Mesolithic peoples in this area had formed all year round settlements some time before the Neolithic farmers arrived and although hunting still provided them with all their meat, some selective cultivation of wild plant crops was replacing gathering, and it is assumed that some had even begun to store food as a means of alleviating the problem of intermittent food shortages. The women of these settlements seemed already to have the ‘easy life’, if anything, it was the men that had the most to gain by adopting animal husbandry, saving them the effort of long treks into the hinterland, and the long trek back heavily laden with their catch.

These excavations have also revealed that the women folk were held in high regard. They are buried, along with children, within the confines of their buildings, demonstrating that women were the home, and the reason for being in a settlement. The men on the other hand were buried either at some distance from the home, or in the gaps between the houses. The picture that this presents, to me, strongly contradicts the notion that these women were traded as a commodity, they appear to have served a valuable function in social and economic cohesion to the group that could not easily be replaced by fancy goods.

So perhaps the press are right, perhaps the Neolithic farmers had the edge when it came to sex appeal. Or maybe, there is another explanation, one that was necessitated by the very reasons above, these women couldn’t be bought and they couldn’t be tempted away with the promise of a home and hearth of their own, they had to be obtained by other means.

Within Grosse Ofnet, a cave overlooking prime farming land that stretches to the river Danube two pits were excavated. In total 33 skulls were uncovered that had been carefully buried with some ceremony. The ‘grave’ contained beads made from pierced red deer teeth, shells, that had travelled from as far away as the Meditterranean, and red ochre. All had been decapitated soon after death, and most showed signs of blunt force trauma as the likely cause of death. The skulls belonged to 4 men, 9 women and 20 children who ranged from infancy to puberty. Due to the under-representation of adult males amongst the group, as well as the careful burial, it has been theorised that the group was murdered during the hunter’s absence, and buried upon their return.


'Nest' of Skulls at Ofnet Cave

In contrast, at Talheim, close to the Rhine in Germany, an excavation of a village revealed a pit containing 34 bodies which had been dumped one on top of the other without either care or ceremony. Similarly, at Schletz-Asparn, a ditch was excavated that revealed the bodies of at least 67 individuals. These people had perhaps been left where they fell, never buried, their bones had been chewed by wolves or dogs, and many were missing the bones of extremities.


The 'Death Pit' at Talheim

The skeletons at Talheim showed no signs of defensive wounds, almost all the victims having been attacked from the rear, their heads caved in with adzes, some had arrow heads embedded in their backs, many of the men had suffered multiple blows to the head, evidence of over kill, but the most notable aspect of all three of these sites, is the lack of young women and girls among the dead.

As a number of the sources indicates, these massacres have been interpreted variously, from inter village rivalry to competition for resources, and yet, taken in conjunction with the genetic studies, isn’t there a more obvious conclusion? That one resource in particular was in such great demand that it justified murder. And if so, why the reluctance to ‘tell it how it is’?


edit on 8-7-2013 by KilgoreTrout because: (no reason given)




posted on Jul, 8 2013 @ 03:29 PM
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Because to tell it differently takes men out of the 'hero important personage' limelight and puts the emphasis on women. This will not do.

Women in a addition to being valuable for their skills, were imperative for the continuation of a man's line. Without her to bear, and nurture the young, it all dies with him.

You are right about that picture of the 'farmer'
edit on 8-7-2013 by Iamschist because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 8 2013 @ 03:31 PM
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Great Thread man..starred and flagged....though The BBC Pic of Neolithic man...well, the phrase, "Light in the Loafers" springs to mind.



posted on Jul, 8 2013 @ 03:40 PM
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Originally posted by Iamschist
You are right about that picture of the 'farmer'


Isn't he though?
Talk about artistic licence.

And you are spot on, from what I have read, it seems to me that the farmers that arrived in Central Europe were most likely purely pastoralists. By around 6200 BC many settlements in the fertile crescent and Asia Minor were collapsing due to a combination of population growth, deforestation, and over cultivation. The soil had nothing left to give. Those farmers packed up and moved to the bigger settlements based around flood plains, those that formed the basis of future conurbations, or returned to nomadic pastoralism. I think that it is the latter that came to Europe. There, due to the Holocence Optimum, they found prime grazing ground for their herds, but as you say, in order to survive, and propagate their skills they needed women. And as significantly, as you point out, those women held the skills and knowledge needed for them to make the transition to the full Neolithic lifestyle.



posted on Jul, 8 2013 @ 03:42 PM
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Originally posted by Soloprotocol
Great Thread man..starred and flagged....though The BBC Pic of Neolithic man...well, the phrase, "Light in the Loafers" springs to mind.


Painted red and naked not manly enough for ya? Kind of works for me.



posted on Jul, 8 2013 @ 10:16 PM
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I am a believer in the power of the woman. Women are the driving force of men. Any of "mans" accomplishments throughout history have been for women.

There is nothing I won't do for mine. She is without a doubt the glue that binds our household (and my sanity).



posted on Jul, 9 2013 @ 04:29 AM
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Originally posted by bigfatfurrytexan
I am a believer in the power of the woman. Women are the driving force of men. Any of "mans" accomplishments throughout history have been for women.


I think that this works both ways, and more so in a familial unit, when that duel force is directed toward off-spring. In that case, I think most of what both sexes do is for their children.

What is perhaps at play here though, in the transition from Mesolithic to Neolithic, is a change in the very way in which societies were bound together as a collective unit. This is important to understand I think as we progress forward. Increasingly, as each community became more settled you see the importance of kin becoming significant, rather than the group having importance as a whole. I cannot decide, as yet whether this is a good thing, though I am sure that there are many who would think that it is.

If you look at the structure of pre-settled societies, there is some inequity in burial practices, with wealth, as demonstrated by burial goods, seemingly connected to youth and vigour. This makes sense on a number of levels and does not necessarily denote that age and accumulated wisdom was under valued. The young and strong could carry more, and in a nomadic society, that was what it was all about, you could possess and accumulate no more than you could carry. Hence, when we see women buried, particularly those buried alongside infants, they have very little. Again this is no reflection of how women and mothers were valued in the society, it simply means that they had few possessions because they were of less importance than consumables and of course, their children.

When we became more settled this changed, and through success of the settlement, we enter into a period of storage food, which lead to greater stability of the village economy and eventually accumulation of surplus. These conditions, inevitably, lead to populations expanding, and with expansion comes greater complexity. By the time we reach full blown Neolithism, we find that less and less of the work is done communally in the outdoors. Particularly women's work. This points not only to a break down in community ties, because not only does a woman bring the family it's focus, the women serve the same purpose to the wider community and allow bonds to form between the children who's orbit is their mother's. So you can begin to see how this plays out generation after generation.

There are a number of possible reasons for this, one is distrust of women, or rather the desire to preserve exclusivity over reproductive rights, so perhaps more correctly, it is distrust of other men, the other, is that surplus thing and protecting the details of what each family have and don't have. So for me, when you look at sites and see the work going on inside, it denotes secrecy and distrust, both of which are unhealthy developments in our society. Although, taking it from the other angle, it also goes hand in hand with covetous behaviours.


Originally posted by bigfatfurrytexan
There is nothing I won't do for mine. She is without a doubt the glue that binds our household (and my sanity).


I am pleased for you, and that is indeed an ideal for many, but I suppose, in the context of this thread, is would you have massacred an entire village to acquire her? And, supposing that you had, what do you think the basis of your relationship would be?

In mentioning the Ofnet skulls, Steven Mithen, in After the Ice, draws comparisons with the Yanomami people of the Amazonian forest.


Violence is one of the leading causes of Yanomami death. Up to half of all of Yanomami males die violent deaths in the constant conflict between neighboring communities over local resources. Often these confrontations lead to the Yanomami leaving their villages in search of new ones.[9] Women are often victims of physical abuse and anger. Inter-village warfare is common, but does not too commonly affect women. When Yanomami tribes fight and raid nearby tribes, women are often raped, beaten, and brought back to their shabono to be kept in their tribe. During the raids, Yanomami men capture and bring back the other women in hopes of marrying them. Wives are beaten on a regular basis, so as to keep them docile and faithful to their husbands.[11] Sexual jealousy causes a majority of the violence.[10] Women are beaten with clubs, sticks, machetes, and other blunt or sharp objects. Burning with a branding stick occurs often, and symbolizes a male’s strength or dominance over his wife.[3]


en.wikipedia.org...

I don't think it is a fair comparison, but it is an interesting one.



posted on Jul, 9 2013 @ 05:57 AM
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reply to post by KilgoreTrout
 


I've long felt that the move to farming in many cases came by a certain amount of force and that there was a level of organisation and planning behind this - developments in social and religious practice often point to this imo.

As a primitive technologist and muser on such subjects, give me the mesolithic over the neolithic anyday.

I'm mobile at present, but have SnF'd and will return when possible to read your OP fully and comment further



posted on Jul, 9 2013 @ 06:25 AM
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reply to post by KilgoreTrout
 



The Neolithic people had highly selective breeding practises, in terms of not only the animals they domesticated but also how they regulated their own people, their approach to kinship was not based on family but the greater group.


www.abovetopsecret.com...


Whether they killed the Mesolitihc men is immaterial, in their ordering of society they seemingly denied them reproductive rights. The evidence suggests they regulated their society like a bee colony, with a centralized house of reproduction, certain women with the status of Queen Bee, and lines of Princesses...the males were just drones lol


One can also look at Minoan society, an early advanced derivative of Anatolian Neolithic practise, and observe the bee cult and status of women there, this is not a group that would have practised indiscriminate rape, the very opposite.

www.abovetopsecret.com...


The bull as representative of the male pro-creative force was an important aspect underlying the feminine bee cult, but pre-dominance was observed over it, it would be regularly trussed up and sacrificed, or gracefully leapt over to demonstrate this principle could be over come and was secondary.



edit on 9-7-2013 by Kantzveldt because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 9 2013 @ 07:57 AM
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S&F Great reading and possible theories.

I married a primitive savage after my wife of 25 years died of breast cancer...sounds harsh but it is the truth; she came from a small farming village and spoke no English. When she first got in a car she would get sick because it did not move like a water buffalo; no kidding!. She is OK now, but I still think about those days and smile.

My wife is able to move and function in different countries because she is observant and sensitive to those around her. My family loves her in the states because she is so willing to help and appears from her actions a cultured lady..... yet, I have only told my father. she really is a savage at heart ; one of the reasons I respect and love her..... my father and step mom really really like her........ Primitive by her roots in the eyes of most western societies and probably savage if the truth were known yet 100% female, nurturing loving a devoted. I love her and she is incredibly good to me.

She can do anything with procuring food (including killing, skinning or getting a fish for supper) and starting a fire and make everything taste good..I have a modern house in the states but she would rather cook over an open flame outside than on the $2500 range??.. I have no doubt if someone attacked me she would not think twice about using anything she could get her hands on to stop me from being hurt to include.......

A good woman IMO has always been the glue that holds a union together. There are plenty of primitives living (even today) and once you get away from certain unnamed religions the women rule the roost. IMO the more primitive the more they try to rule either by guile or out right in the guys face, "this is the way it will be" kinda thingy! I have not had to face something like that with mine because we agree on just about everything....? However I have seen dirt poor girls leave someone who in their eyes is rich because the man thought they could buy the girl and lord over her instead of a 50/50 relationship...People are people and I doubt basic things have changed much since we first stood upright.

There are many stories of one village guy raiding another village for a woman..In some societies it was customary and planned ahead of time. On a bigger scale men of a village were once either made slaves or were axed along with the old women and anyone who could not keep up with the march. Rome, China, along with just about any society that has a long history has many tales of such actions by the victors. Man's inhumanity to man is alive even today if you look at the wars or up risings going on across the world and who is being killed.

Having multiple wives because you could provide for them was (is) not that unusual. Today in several societies the well monied guy has a wife and provides for one or two other women on the side. In Poor countries the practice is more prevalent because the women do not cost as much to support...First Lady at the primary residence is called the wife and the others are called little wife or little wives.. The primary wife may know and not say anything (not wanting to cause problems or lose everything) or she may find out and cut important pieces off the man's body as he sleeps. Used to happen frequently in S.E. Asia 40+ years ago...... a Dog or Duck would usually end up eating the offending organ (s).

There are still those who live with 2 women in the same house who are usually sisters or were very good friends to begin with...

The Chinese symbol for disharmony is a house with two women inside so good luck with that setup! I tried it many years ago and came out of the shower only to have to separate the girls from killing each other...Those were the days.....

Things have gotten more civilized (cough) due to T.V. and the government frowning on the above cutting process, yet it still happens.

IMO women in some societies are the most under rated species on the planet. They are very good at what they do and if you take a good woman and a good man and put them together you have a force and happiness that is hard to beat........ again just thoughts and my humble opinion.
edit on 9-7-2013 by 727Sky because: ...



posted on Jul, 9 2013 @ 08:45 AM
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Originally posted by bigfatfurrytexan
I am a believer in the power of the woman. Women are the driving force of men. Any of "mans" accomplishments throughout history have been for women.

There is nothing I won't do for mine. She is without a doubt the glue that binds our household (and my sanity).


Sry, I don't believe that. I'm incredibly successful, especially considering the circumstances of my family during youth, and all I have accomplished was NOT for any woman, it was entirely for myself. Sure, NOW I'm in a situation where i'd risk it all for my girl or my mother but, that's not who this all was intended for.



posted on Jul, 9 2013 @ 09:09 AM
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reply to post by KilgoreTrout
 


Very interesting, thanks for post. I don't know if this is relative, but I come from a long line of farmers and so does my husband. I remember stories of a time when children were considered a "blessing" on the farm. It takes a lot a labor to produce a lot of food then store it and protect it.



posted on Jul, 9 2013 @ 09:29 AM
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reply to post by KilgoreTrout
 


The image of the herder resembles B & W photos of herders from East Africa.

Culture is most and more often transmitted to child by women. Women are the key to any ancient civilization or culture as they are the main food producers.

Their importance - and the lesser importance of men in that sense is demonstrated by the common cultural traits of not risking women in battle and not killing them if attacking (often not followed).

Good post Kilgore
edit on 9/7/13 by Hanslune because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 9 2013 @ 03:23 PM
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Originally posted by skalla
I'm mobile at present, but have SnF'd and will return when possible to read your OP fully and comment further


I will look forward to your comments. And me too with the Mesolithic, depending upon the locality...I'm not sure I would have fancied being too close to Denmark, too much uncertainty doesn't manifest itself well, I've never been a huge fan of the chest beating types, let alone the head clubbing ones, but those in Central Europe, definately.



posted on Jul, 9 2013 @ 03:25 PM
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reply to post by KilgoreTrout
 


My wife told me to day " men posses the world but women possess men.." or "You are the head of the relationship and I am the neck that points you where you should go"
edit on 9-7-2013 by votan because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 9 2013 @ 04:06 PM
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Originally posted by Kantzveldt
The Neolithic people had highly selective breeding practises, in terms of not only the animals they domesticated but also how they regulated their own people, their approach to kinship was not based on family but the greater group.


Well, the kinship versus group depends much upon location and environmental factors in general. In terms of burial practices most Neolithic peoples seem to have had multiple stages of burials which are associated with ancestor worship, but in general terms, I think I would have to disagree with you. Though the bones in many cases eventually ended up in a collective burial used by a village or settlement, this was usually after they had spent some time within the family home, either in full beneath the floor, or the skull alone as part of family shrine.

The evidence of the extensive studies carried out on the waste left by Palaeolithic and Mesolithic peoples, it is strongly suggested that it was the hunting practices themselves that first led to domestications and the propensity for the hunters to target the largest males prior to breeding. It has been shown, over successive seasons, that this led to a reduction in the size of the wild animals, simply because it was interfering with the natural, wild order of things, and lesser sized, possibly more docile males, that otherwise would not have stood a chance were by default afforded mating rights. By messing with the natural order, they facilitated domestication indirectly. By utilising a single sire, it did institute the required lack of diversity, and some selection did, obviously, take place subsequently, but then again, it depends very much upon the animal in question, and since the purpose of those animals varies, it is not that cut and dried.


Originally posted by Kantzveldt
Whether they killed the Mesolitihc men is immaterial, in their ordering of society they seemingly denied them reproductive rights.


It is hardly immaterial. The Neolithic people had the advantage in terms of weaponry, adzes in the case of these massacres, but as with the removal of natural dominance and leadership in the animal kingdom, the same applies to those massacres of the human population. That has repercussions that are worthy of consideration.


Originally posted by Kantzveldt
The evidence suggests they regulated their society like a bee colony, with a centralized house of reproduction, certain women with the status of Queen Bee, and lines of Princesses...the males were just drones lol


I am not sure what evidence it is that suggests that, most certainly as you point out in the thread that you link to, there is symbolic usage of the bee in any number of cultures, but in comparison, proportionately, with other symbolism, it is a minor feature, and part of a much larger body of beliefs. I think that there is the possibility that you are over interpreting the use of the bee and not taking it into context with the wider body of evidence.



Originally posted by Kantzveldt
One can also look at Minoan society, an early advanced derivative of Anatolian Neolithic practise, and observe the bee cult and status of women there, this is not a group that would have practised indiscriminate rape, the very opposite.


Again I would not equate Minoan society with a 'bee cult', there is a small amount of bee symbolism, and very little to support that the use of the bee was in any way 'cultish', it is stretching a point. More significantly though, the Minoans were very far removed from the Neolithic. They were a Bronze Age society and not indigenous to Crete, they were colonists arriving some 3000 years or so after the first Neolithic settlers. The thread that you link to, and as I stated in that thread, most of the images that you draw from are idealised images unrelated to the people that first settled in that island, they are reflective of a ruling elite of outsiders that had long ago left farming and their connection with nature behind. So their artistic expression is not, in any shape or form, Neolithic, though they may have romanticised and stylised local artistic themes. Their arrival ended the Neolithic in Crete and by the time most of the illustrations that you use were made, it had been over for a millenia and a half. So, sorry, no comparison, or even relevency to the OP.


Originally posted by Kantzveldt
The bull as representative of the male pro-creative force was an important aspect underlying the feminine bee cult, but pre-dominance was observed over it, it would be regularly trussed up and sacrificed, or gracefully leapt over to demonstrate this principle could be over come and was secondary.


To an extent but still cherry-picking. The Minoans were unreservedly patriarchal rulers, this does not mean that women were lesser, but they appear to have been segregated somewhat.



posted on Jul, 9 2013 @ 04:09 PM
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Originally posted by 727Sky
IMO women in some societies are the most under rated species on the planet. They are very good at what they do and if you take a good woman and a good man and put them together you have a force and happiness that is hard to beat........ again just thoughts and my humble opinion.


I enjoyed both thoughts and humble opinion, and your wife sounds delightful.

Many thanks for the reply



posted on Jul, 9 2013 @ 04:16 PM
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Originally posted by MOMof3
Very interesting, thanks for post. I don't know if this is relative, but I come from a long line of farmers and so does my husband. I remember stories of a time when children were considered a "blessing" on the farm. It takes a lot a labor to produce a lot of food then store it and protect it.


From what I have read on the subject, the Neolithic farmers required all hands on deck, and even very small children can be taught to pull out weeds and squish bugs, so yes, children would be vital.

I think that it is also worth considering whether the development of lactose tolerance was facilitated by the desire to supplant the mother's milk. Amongst Palaeolithic and Mesolithic peoples, it was normal to wean at around 4 years of age, which obviously also served the important function of spacing births to give both the child the full attention that it needed, and the mother the ability to not over burden herself. By reducing the period of breast feeding, the Neolithic peoples could reproduce more frequently, but this would, I would expect, have had a knock on effect to women's mortality rates, both in childbirth, and longevity. Hmm...I might look to see if there are any studies with regards to that. Thanks for the stimulus.



posted on Jul, 9 2013 @ 04:26 PM
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reply to post by Hanslune
 


Yes, my friend noticed that similarity too...must have been the artists source of inspiration, add a splash of red ochre, and Bob your uncle.

In terms of skill transmission from mother to child, seems to me, the more complex the societies became, the more women are removed from that function and isolated, or controlled, one way or another, as were the processes and methods that they had developed. Later, women are even isolated from each other in the more elite based societies. This obviously has a snow ball effect in any number of ways.

Thanks



posted on Jul, 9 2013 @ 06:32 PM
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Oh, one other tid bit. There are tribes (Kulina for example) were the men and women speak different languages this is probably a reflection of situation where the males of the women's original tribe were killed and they were mated with the new 'rulers' and the tradition of speaking a different language was retained. Some other tribes like the Tocano have the man always picking a woman from a tribe that doesn't speak his language reflecting a tradition that mothers always spoke a foreign tongue and marrying one that did speak your language was considered 'incestous'.





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