My Dearest Readers,
I give thee yet another fantastic installment by the fabulous and brilliant Maggie Grover. Now mind you the picture above is *not* a real representation of what a cave woman would have looked like back then. Just so you know. Do remember to show your love and post!
Cheers and much love,
I have a confession. Not only am I a geek for history, I also love reading about the latest archaeological finds. In fact, once upon a time, in a land far, far away, I was going to be an archaeologist, not an historical novelist (okay, the faraway land was only Florida and it wasn't such a long time ago, 'cause sheez, I'm not THAT old). Anyway, this love of archaeology means that I keep an eye out for the latest in interesting "digs" -- "digs" is the bland term archaeologists use to describe excavating dead people. . .and it's also part of the reason I decided not to be an archaeologist. You have to dig up dead people? Eeeuw. How about I just write stories about dead people, instead? Much better. Which brings me to this month's Woman with Fire topic -- actually it's going to be WOMEN with Fire.
I'm cheering for the women of the Neolithic era (some call it the Late Stone Age and it means New Stone in Greek) who really did live once upon a time in a land far away -- not Clan of the Cave Bear long ago, but around the beginnings of modern civilization (roughly 4-6000 years) in such places as Egypt, the Fertile Crescent (modern-day Iraq) and then migrated into Europe.
The article that sparked my idea for this blog detailed the discovery of a Neolithic family grave among four burial sites in Germany. Based on a DNA analysis of the remains, the archaeologists realized the skeletons in this grave belonged to a mother, father, and two sons. The other three graves also contained members of single family groupings as well (all revealed through the FEMALE DNA, I might add). The article said that this discovery suggested that biological relationship was the focus of social organization in Neolithic times. Nothing surprising there, as we know the evidence for the family model we use today had to be somewhere.
The next bit is what got me thinking about the magnificence of Neolithic women. The researchers analyzed the strontium isotopes (designer atoms) in their teeth. The strontium from food accumulates in your teeth over time and it's a way archaeologists five hundred years from now will be able to tell if you ate primarily at McDonald's in the Pacific Northwest, or visited the McDonald's in New England on a regular basis. The results of the analysis showed that the women grew up in markedly different regions from the men and children -- the women came from a land far, far away (for real). Apparently, the women were expected to marry out of their clan -- the reason being this would avoid inbreeding and cement kinship bonds with other communities.. And it hit me . . . imagine growing up in one clan and learning all the secrets of pottery making, animal husbandry, farming, and sacred knowledge of your blossoming civilization then marrying some guy you met at the annual gathering of the clans who hailed from the other side of the "beyond" and having to learn all new stuff in order to survive in his clan! New plants, new geography, new language, new tools, new animals, new sacred symbols, new EVERYTHING. And these ladies with fire did it. Again and again. They brought their knowledge to new places, shared it with new peoples, and learned the new ways.
Which brings me to my point. Think about it, if you will. Because of the courage of our Stone Age foremothers, we females have successfully been "marrying out of our clan" since Neolithic times, which is at least 6000 years. 6000 years. No wonder we are friggin' better at multi-tasking, creating community, seeing the BIG picture, and adapting to change. And, no offense intended, but as far as I can tell, the biggest social challenge facing Neolithic men was learning to hunt, and, ahem, learning how to correctly use their own "spear".
Neolithic women began it by exemplifying the bumper sticker (paraphrasing here): Neolithic women are like tea bags, you don't know how strong they are until you drop 'em in "new-clan" hot water. So, here's to our rockin' (no pun intended) Stone Age foremothers. Thank you for laying the groundwork for us to survive in our own intense times!