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European cave artists were women

An analysis of hand stencils inside the 25,000-year-old Pech Merle cave has indicated that the handprints belong to females, which suggests that the majority of prehistoric cave artists were women. For about as long as humans have created works of art, theyve also left behind handprints.

art and culture Updated: Jun 27, 2009 17:35 IST

An analysis of hand stencils inside the 25,000-year-old Pech Merle cave has indicated that the handprints belong to females, which suggests that the majority of prehistoric European cave artists were female.

For about as long as humans have created works of art, theyve also left behind handprints.

People began stenciling, painting, or chipping imprints of their hands onto rock walls at least 30,000 years ago.

Until recently, most scientists assumed these prehistoric handprints were male.

Our hands are one of the features that make humans unique, something that links us all, said Pennsylvania State University archaeologist Dean Snow.

But even a superficial examination of published photos suggested to me that there were lots of female hands there, Pennsylvania State University archaeologist Dean Snow told National Geographic News, referring to European cave art.

By measuring and analyzing the Pech Merle hand stencils, Snow found that many were indeed female.

With support from the National Geographic Societys Committee for Research and Exploration, he analyzed hand stencils at caves in Spain and France and found most of them were female.

Before, most scientists had incorrectly assumed that it was a guy thing, Snow said.