Scientists are divided over whether there is a new “earliest known form of sexual anthropomorphism,” with archaeologists at the University of Bordeaux suggesting that a 4.3-centimeter (1.69-inch) carved graphite pendant of this form should be a penis.
If it’s actually a penis, it’s not a very good one either. Or someone in the Upper Paleolithic really needs to see a doctor.
Now look, everyone is a critic, I get it.But when it comes to penis depictions, I’m also pretty good at it, not only creating hundreds of them in my high school friends’ textbooks and test papers in the late ’90s, but also Write and perform songs (link is NSFW, crap) About this particular corner of the art world.
If my own experience is any guide, these labors tend to be undervalued in modern life. Artists themselves often seem to feel that their work is more interesting than the viewer’s, so many tricks and tricks are used to make it visible.
It’s unclear if this dynamic dates back to the ancient world, but it may go some way to explain why our ancient Mongol ancestors may have wanted to wear carved penis pendants around their necks.
It was unearthed in 2016 at a site in the northern Conai mountains, along with other valuable ornaments, and was carbon-dated to be between 42,400 and 41,900 years old, making it older than vulva drawings drawn on cave walls in France much older. 32,000 years ago, or as it is known Venus of Holefels Engraving from Germany dating from 35,000 to 40,000 years ago.
But is it a penis?
Leading the team “Oh yes, it’s totally a penis” is Solange Rigaud, an archaeologist at the University of Bordeaux who has written a 5,000-word paper on the subject with the catchy title Personal ornaments from Tolbor-21 (Mongolia) show symbolic innovations from the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic in Eurasiain the latest issue of natural science report.
Rigaud elaborates her point of view in the study: “Given the object’s small size, the most striking common feature of the T21 pendant and other objects of this class is a short groove delineating the external urethral meatus and another groove at the neck. …In other archaeological contexts, there is no doubt that long cylindrical objects with neck grooves and sometimes nasal incisions are accepted as phallic representations.”
She goes on to list the many other pebble carvings that science has unequivocally accepted as definitely penises, before noting, “The samples of 3D representations of penises available in the literature show the same exaggeration of key anatomical features that clearly It is recalled that while it is difficult to completely rule out other possibilities, based on these morphological analogies, the most compelling explanation for the T21 pendant is a simplified phallic representation.”
“When you want to represent something abstractly,” she continued science“You’ll pick very specific features that really characterize what you want to represent.” In other words, if it has a well-defined glans and urethra, then in her book, it’s a penis.
However, Curtis Runells, an archaeologist at Boston University, believes Rigo saw what she wanted to see in the artifact, “like a face in a cloud.” Runells “needed to be convinced” that this “small, shapeless object” was meant to be a penis, so perhaps he wanted Rigo to find something bigger and more shaped before he was impressed.
One of Rigaud’s archaeological colleagues in Bordeaux, Francesco D’Errico, who shared a laboratory with several of the authors of the controversial study, came out in support of the penis hypothesis. “The small size of the object, the exotic origin of the raw material and … the modifications are very telling,” he said. “I think that explanation works.”
If you want my personal opinion – which I’m sure you will if you’ve made it this far – well, watch it. I saved the most convincing evidence for last. From this perspective, this is what the dollar is doing to the donut.
Why on earth did Rigo spend so much time doing this? Well, she says, if it’s indeed a penis, it’s “important because it highlights very specific cognitive abilities in our lineage,” such as the ability to give meaning to symbolic representations.
We’ll let this debate rage, but one thing seems certain: 42,000 years from now, no one will write 5,000 words to describe any of my drawings, so the ancient Mongolian knob artisans who made this thing can rest in peace , knowing his work made a difference.
The paper is open access in the journal natural science report.