Europe's Oldest Cave Art: Female Genitalia

Vulva-like carving adorns hunter-gatherer cave
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2012 7:30 PM CDT
Europe's Oldest Cave Art: Female Genitalia
A carving in a 37,000-year-old cave ceiling may represent female genitalia.   (Raphaelle Bourrillon)

Hunter-gatherers who lived in Europe a long time ago apparently liked carving female genitalia into the ceiling, LiveScience reports. A new discovery in France reveals that Europe's most venerable rock art—about 37,000 years old—depicted something that looks like vulva. "It's quotidian art, it's everyday art," says researcher Randall White. "It's over their heads as they're doing everyday, banal sorts of things."

These early humans also liked painting, sculpting, and making jewelry from woolly mammoth ivory and animal teeth. As for the vulva, it may reveal an interest in fertility and the mystery of childbirth, says White. Not all anthropologists believe the circles are genitalia, and White says he wants to investigate further—to analyze the engravings "and the activities that were taking place below and to see if there was any relationship between the two." (Now see whether early humans killed off the Neanderthals.)

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