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Mujeres y Poder en la Prehistoria. La "Señora del Marfil" del Mega-Sitio de la Edad del Cobre de Valencina

Jueves, 25 de mayo. Salón de actos, 18:30. Asistencia libre y gratuita hasta completar aforo


Pulse para ampliar Cámara grande. Tholos de Montelirio (Castilleja de Guzmán, Sevilla)

Conferencia de Marta Cintas Peña y Leonardo García Sanjuán, Universidad de Sevilla

Given the absence of written records, the main source of information available to analyze gender inequalities in early complex societies is the human body itself. And yet, for decades, archaeologists have struggled with the identification of the sex of poorly preserved human remains. Here we present an exceptional case study that shows how ground-breaking new scientific methods may address this problem.

Through the recovery of sexually dimorphic amelogenin protein fragments in tooth enamel by means of nanoflow liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, we establish that the most socially prominent person of the Iberian Copper Age (c. 3200-2300 cal BC) was not male, as previously thought, but female.

The meticulous anthropological, contextual and comparative analysis of a woman discovered in 2008 at Valencina, Spain, nicknamed “The Ivory Merchant Woman” after her association with remarkable objects made of ivory, reveals that she was a leading social figure, and that no male attained a remotely comparable social position at the time. The wealth and pomp invested in her burial that displays all the traits attributed to ‘Big Men’ in the anthropological literature, are only matched by burials in the Montelirio tholos, located barely 100 m away, which similarly included mostly females.

Our results invite to reconsider established interpretations about the political role of women at the onset of early social complexity, while at the same time questions traditionally-held views of the past. Moreover, the study anticipates the profound changes that newly-developed scientific methods will bring to prehistoric archaeology and the study of human social evolution.


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