According to The Huffington Post on Sunday, new research suggests that many of the first artistic masters were women, not men.
Dean Snow, an emeritus professor of anthropology at Penn State University, has spent a decade gathering data on cave paintings ranging from 20,000 to 40,000 years old, reports National Geographic. Snow's research culminated in a paper recently published in the journal American Antiquity. His report concludes three-quarters of the cave hand prints included in the paper were left by females.
Men were long thought to be the artists on cave walls because so much cave art is centered around hunting, a prehistorically domain of males.
The cave art under review is early examples of hand stencils, where the person making them placed their hand against a wall then blew paint at it (through a straw or directly from their mouth) to create an outline. Such art has been found in caves in Australia, Africa, Borneo, Argentina and more famously in Spain and France.
The 32 hand prints he found in the caves, however, were more pronounced in their differences than those of the modern men and women he sampled. Based upon the model and measurements, he found that 75 percent of the hands belonged to women.
Snow theorizes that if women were doing most of the cave art, it's possible they played a larger, more important role in how hunter-gatherer societies functioned than has been thought.
National Geographic notes that at least one expert, evolutionary biologist R. Dale Guthrie, is skeptical about Snow's findings. Guthrie carried out different analyses on cave hand prints and concluded most had been made by adolescent boys.
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