Wednesday, December 5, 2007

His hands rested on her pubis

In 1986, near a village called Dolni Vestonice in the Czech province of Moravia, the bodies of three teenagers were discovered in a common grave. A specialist was immediately summoned from Brno, some twenty-five miles to the north, and under his care the remains were exhumed and faint remnants of the youths' identities revealed. Two of the skeletons were heavily built males. By its slender proportions, the third was judged to be female, aged seventeen to twenty. A marked left curvature of the spine, along with several other skeletal abnormalities, suggested that she had been painfully crippled. The two males had died healthy, in the prime of their lives. The remains of a thick wooden pole thrust through the hip of one of them hinted that his death might not have been entirely natural. Both young men had been laid to rest with their heads encircled with necklaces of pierced canine teeth and ivory; the one with the pole thrust up to his coccyx may also have been wearing some kind of painted mask. All three skulls were covered in red ocher. The most peculiar feature of the grave, however, was the arrangement of the deceased. Whoever committed the bodies to the ground extended them side by side, the woman between her two companions. The man on her left lay on his stomach, facing away from her but with his left arm linked with hers. The other male lay on his back, his head turned toward her. Both of his arms were reaching out, so that his hands rested on her pubis. The ground surrounding this intimate connection was splashed with red ocher.Dolni Vestonice is also the site of the earliest known potter's kiln. For acres around, the fertile clay soil is seeded with carved and molded images of animals, women, strange engravings, personal ornaments, and decorated graves. In the main hut, where the people ate and slept, two items were found: a goddess figurine made of fired clay and a small and cautiously carved portrait made from mammoth ivory of a woman whose face was drooped on one side The goddess figurine is the oldest known baked clay figurine. On top of its head are holes which may have held grasses or herbs. The potter scratched two slits that stretched from the eyes to the chest which were thought to be the life-giving tears of the mother goddess. (...more >>>)


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