Apr 13, 2011
Turning to one of the lighter stories in the news, we learn this week that anthropologists unearthed the bones of a male near Prague who had been buried 5,000 years ago in a manner that was typical of females of the period.
"We found one very specific grave of a man lying in the position of a woman, without gender specific grave goods, neither jewelry or weapons," reported the [Czech Archeological] Society's Kamila Remisova Vesinova. "So we think based on data that it could be a member of a so-called third gender, which were people either with different sexual orientation or transsexuals or just people who identified themselves differently from the rest of the society."
Initial reports concluded that the bones were that of a gay caveman. Naturally, many anthropologists have disputed that conclusion. In the first place, the cave-dwelling era was more than 5,000 years ago, and the term "gay" only dates from Stonewall (which was a gay bar in 1969, not a cliff face where cavemen went to cruise each other). From CNN:
[W]hile acknowledging the "unusual" circumstances of the burial, [UW-Madison associate professor of anthropology John] Hawks said there is no way you can tell someone is homosexual by examining a skeleton.
Instead, the possibility of a third-gender grave -- as outlined by the archaeologists -- is more plausible, he said, noting that some cultures have a third category where, in some cases, men may have feminine characteristics or roles.
So I apologize to any anthropologists, insurance spokesneanderthals and editorialexplanations fans who object to my use of the term "gay" in the "News Item" box in this week's cartoon.
I should have written "queer."