Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Geneticists Dispute Archaeological Interpretations of Early Human Females

One of the most stunning archaeological finds ever made  is a figurine, discovered by Dr. Josef Szombathy in 1908. Called the "Venus of Willendorf," this statuette is believed to have been carved sometime between 24,000 to 22,000 BCE.  Since that time, dozens of Paleolithic figurines of females have been discovered as far afield as France, Siberia and Japan.

Archaeologists interpreted the decidedly un-European features of these female statuettes as being "exaggerations," which  follow Paleolithic artistic conventions.  One scholar remarked:  "The Venus is not a realistic portrait but rather an idealization of the female figure.  The same scholars interpreted the carving's tightly curled hair as "a type of headdress."

However, growing anthropological evidence points to the Khoisan people of southern Africa, as being the oldest branch of the human family.  And guess what?  Khoisan women even today exhibit the short, kinky hair, and fat accumulation around the buttocks known as steatopygia, that Western researchers used as evidence to insist that these statuettes were "artistic exaggerations."

Fortunately, new findings in the field of human genomics may force archaeologists and researchers in other fields as well, to re-consider earlier interpretations of the Venus figurines, which insisted that these carvings bore no relationship to the physical appearance of early European women.   That is, Y-chromosome studies  of populations from around the world have shown that the ancestors of the Khoisan were in all probabiity the earliest population group of modern humans.  What that means in short is that everybody's female ancestors resembled these Khoisan women.

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