From Publishers Weekly
Taylor, a British archeologist, taps archeological evidence (reproduced in some 50 photographs) that is virtually unknown outside specialist circles?graphic depictions of sex in prehistoric cultures: mammoth ivory phalluses, sculptures of women in childbirth, syphilitic skeletons, charred remains of aphrodisiac herbs. The result is a groundbreaking, riveting survey that strongly suggests that sex and love among prehistoric peoples was less bestial than is commonly assumed. He traces sexual inequality to the invention of farming in the Near East 10,000 years ago, where the availability of animal milk allowed women to raise many children, tying themselves to hearth and home. Disputing feminist claims that Neolithic figurines of the "Great Earth Mother" emerged from a prehistoric matriarchy, he argues that the clay figurines do not symbolize motherhood, but rather suggest that dominant males practiced polygyny. Surveying Eurasian erotic practice in areas ranging from the great city of Mohenjo-Daro in India circa 2000 B.C. to Iron Age Denmark, he documents tremendous variation in human sexuality?homosexuality, prostitution, male and female transvestitism, transsexuality, vigorous interest in contraception, sex as both acrobatic pastime and spiritual discipline?a diversity that went underground with the advent of Christian sexual attitudes.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Matters of sexual conduct are usually glossed over in popular accounts of archaeological discovery, but it is impossible to gain any deep understanding of a culture, no matter how ancient it is, without some grasp of its sexual practices and attitudes, a fact British archaeologist Taylor tackles head on. Young, hip, energetically articulate, and extremely knowledgeable, Taylor brings prehistoric society to life in his detailed and revelatory discussion of Stone Age sex. He quickly dispenses with old theories about our ancestors' ignorance of the connection between intercourse and pregnancy, presenting artifacts that support his claims that "most prehistoric communities were in control of their fertility and fully able to separate sex from reproduction." Taylor goes on to portray prehistoric family configurations, propose the origins for sexual inequality and prostitution, and discuss Stone Age taboos, sexual rituals, eroticism, and the long history of homosexuality, sadomasochism, and transsexuality. Simultaneously, Taylor's history shows us how similar we are to our ancestors and how different. Donna Seaman
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