Lecturer reveals mysteries
of Stone Age sec
Archaeological Sciences lecturer travelled back 26,000 years to look at
the evidence of sexual practices left by our earliest European ancestors
for a new Channel Four documentary series.
Sex BC asked
questions such as 'Can a mysterious triple burial give us clues about
the earliest sexual taboos?' and 'What do the small clay figures of women
found across Europe tell us about prehistoric sexuality?' The first programme
was based on Dr Timothy Taylor's book 'The Prehistory of Sex', in which
he pieces together evidence from highly controversial artefacts and human
remains to decipher the mysteries of Stone Age sex.
Timothy said: "In
the course of my research, I found sexual diversity to be a constant and
vital force in human development. Sexuality cannot be understood in purely
biological terms, and culture plays just as important a role. Only by
accepting this, can we understand how we increased our mental capacities
beyond those of the other primates, lost our body hair, and expanded out
of Africa to colonise the rest of the world."
for the programme took Timothy from Catalhuyuk in Turkey to Skara Brae
in Orkney. During his travels, he discusses the Venus de Villendorf, which
dates back to 30,000 to 15,000 BC, and is given a rare opportunity to
handle the stone goddess.
In his book, Timothy
delves into the familiar: marriage, birthing, child-rearing; and the fringe:
bestiality, body piercing, orgies. From cave art to penis sheaths, from
the personal tragedies of death in childbirth to the grand symbols of
Stonehenge, the book is a collection and analysis of a wide range of artefacts
and written records relevant to the sexual history of mankind.
Timothy's new book,
'The Buried Soul: How We Invented Death', is out this month. The book
charts the story of the human response to death from prehistory to the
present day. Retracing four million years, this book investigates the
many ways that our descendants have come face to face and dealt with the
idea of life. Many of these encounters have been passed down, accounts
of sacrifices in early histories, rituals that have stood the test of
time, bodies discovered in caves and bogs, and remains revealed by archaeological
these insights into the past, Dr Taylor pieces together evidence of how
our ancestors created their universe - both physical and mental - and
the possibility of the afterlife.
'The Buried Soul:
How We Invented Death' is priced £20. The 'Prehistory of Sex' costs £8.99.
Both are published by Fourth Estate and available from the University's