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July 08, 2003

Why archaeology isn't always taken seriously

Check it:


Viewed from above, Perks suggests Stonehenge's inner bluestone circle represents the labia minora and the giant outer sarsen stone circle is the labia majora. The altar stone is the clitoris and the open center is the birth canal.

Posted by razib at 01:07 PM




Archaeology isn't taken seriously?! But everyone loves the Leakeys.

Posted by: Jason Malloy at July 8, 2003 02:38 PM


well...almost everybody, anyway.

Posted by: Jason Malloy at July 8, 2003 02:44 PM


Where do they come up with this shit??

Posted by: duende at July 8, 2003 06:01 PM


the leakys are paleoanthropologists....

Posted by: razib at July 8, 2003 06:59 PM


Consilience yo. Mary and Louis were both archaeologists.

Archaeology complemented the anthropology. For instance Mary Leakey was able to prove that habilis and astralopithecene lived at the same time by studying the tools they made.

Posted by: Jason Malloy at July 8, 2003 07:52 PM


well, OK, u win ;)

Posted by: razib at July 8, 2003 09:07 PM


makes sense to me

Posted by: fredrik at July 9, 2003 12:05 AM


Hey, guys, you're way off base. Don't let Andrea Dworkin and the ecofeminists drive you crazy. The various premodern peoples often had bizarre symbolism centered on sex, childbirth, and genitalia. Whereas we moderns are always very sensible on sexual topics. They were weird, not sensible people like me and you, and it's the archaeologist's job to figure them out. I have no idea whether this theory is right or not, but my guess is that even if it's wrong, the real motive for Stonehenge was just as weird.

Posted by: zizka at July 9, 2003 04:15 PM


well-i don't know if the guy is right or wrong, would need to look at a paper summarizing his methods & results, but my first reaction was to laugh. people don't laugh at cosmology, economics, etc. so it's easier to take those subjects more seriously. but it seems in archaeology everything turns into a "phallic votive offering," and later it turns out to be a shoe-horn or something prosaic. i think that's pretty funny, and hard to take seriously....

Posted by: razib at July 9, 2003 04:27 PM


OK now. Suppose that Stonehenge consisted of two round mounds of equal size. And at the top of each mound was a circle colored reddish-brown. And in the middle of each reddish-brown circle was a reddish-brown, gumdrop-shaped stone with a hole bored through it which seems to have been used to dispense some kind of liquid, perhaps beer. Wouldn't you guess what they were and just assume that it was some kind of primitive frat-house?

Posted by: zizka at July 10, 2003 09:33 AM


Considering the well-accepted fact that Stonehenge was built in at least four phases over some two thousand years, with various parts being removed, modified, reused or replaced (and sometimes all of the above) and new portions being added, I think it's a bit brash to argue that there was ever a single overarching theme or purpose behind the construction... especially one so simple as a genital representation. The components listed in Perks' description were placed at three different times, many tens of generations apart, and the original configuration looked nothing like the present one (e.g., there were no stones at all!).

I'm with razib; this one seriously needs to be hooted down!

Posted by: Troy at July 12, 2003 04:28 PM