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  5. Human identity beyond sex and gender: eye idols

Human identity beyond sex and gender: eye idols

Floor 0, Room 7, Showcases 7.5 y 7.6. Eye Idols
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This alabaster figure was produced in the Chalcolithic period and belongs to the group of items known as "eye idols", in reference to their eye-shaped decorations. More examples of such “idols” of can be found in the neighbouring showcase 7.6. It is currently believed that these figures had a group identification function. They may have been territorial indicators and/or symbols of social position and linked their makers to a particular human group.

It is possible that these “idols” present some features referring to their masculine or feminine nature that we can no longer identify as such. Nevertheless, one should bear in mind that it was very easy to include clear sexual markers in this type of figurines, as can be seen in the idol with breasts on the left in showcase 7.6. Furthermore, it was quite common to make clearly sexed idols in other prehistoric contexts, such as the famous "Venuses" (a term that is increasingly out of use), like those of Gavá or Benaoján. For these reasons, it is most likely that these figures were intentionally made with asexual features, that is to say, without any marked sex or gender.

Human beings often use sex and gender to construct their identity, but they can also construct it beyond this binary. Since prehistoric times we have seen representations that defy the sex and gender binary, some, like these idols, with asexual figures, and others, like some found in Central Europe and Greece, with figures with features of both sexes, and intersexual features.

Next QR. Floor 1, Room 11, Showcase 11.5 >