Whichever notion is true, the fact remains that human beings were not always as they are now. The earliest evidence of hominids stretch back some four million years to Ethiopia in North East Africa. These were Australopithicus afarensis, apes closely related to human beings. Some two million years late another hominid species, Australopithicus africanus, lived in South Africa, and traces have been found of Australopithicus robustus which lived 500,000 years later in east and southern Africa. These were a species that lived alongside early human species and possibly interacted with them, as did Neanderthal man sometime within the same time frame.
Some two million years ago, homo habilis was the first human species, followed a million years later by homo erectus, which in turn was superseded by early man homo sapiens just under another million years later. The earliest archaeological finds in Africa of homo sapiens sapiensis (early man) are dated at around 150,000 years ago, and fossils were found dating 100,000 years ago. Around 80,000 years ago, humans started to use clothing. The last Ice Age came along 10,000 years later, and lasted 60,000 years until 10,000BC. Shortly thereafter, agriculture began, and the earliest traces of civilisation have been found dating back to that time.
The earliest discovered civilisation was that of the Natufian Neolithic culture, based in the Levant some 10,000 years ago. Although they hunted gazelles, they were primarily an agricultural society, making use of wild grasses and cultivating cereals. They were the first society to domesticate dogs. Archaeology has unearthed traces of what appear to be a fortified village, boasting a twenty-five foot high wall surrounded by a moat. Remnants of large beehive shaped houses were found, built of clay bricks. No traces of any building implements have been found, which suggests that all the building work was done by hand.
Traces of religion were found, suggesting the worship of a female deity. The picture above shows what appears to be a woman’s figure over that of a man. It has been conjectured that the beehive shaped houses resembled the Goddess’s womb, and that this was strong fertility symbol. Although knowledge of the society does not reveal any gender bias, there are indications that the prevalent worship was of the female deity by both sexes.
The earliest full excavation of a civilisation’s site was that of Catal Hoyuk which was based in modern-day Turkey between 6500BC – 5650BC. It seems to have been a fairly peaceful society, as no evidence of weaponry was found. All indications point to the fact that it was the first gynocracy, or female-dominated civilisation. Thousands of figurines were unearthed. Not one male figurine could be found, they were all of them female – and were mostly representations of the Earth Mother, variously known as Kubala, Kybele, and later Cybele.
The deceased were buried in their houses. Women and children were buried with icons and amulets in the centre of the house, beneath the sleeping area, whilst men were buried in the corners of the building with only their hunting implements. Remains of some men were found buried in the midden, which was the rubbish dump. From this it would appear that women were buried with respect; men with disrespect, which showed that women were at the centre of the society while men were just a peripheral.
Although there did not appear to be many central places of worship, on the hills of Catal Hoyuk an altar and temple were found. In a grain container was found a 12cm statue of a large woman sitting on what appeared to be a throne flanked by two leopards – a representation of Cybele. A head is poking out from between her legs. It was originally thought that it depicted the woman giving birth to a child, but closer examination reveals that it actually portrays her urinating on a man beneath her. This gels with the contempt with which the women of the society treated their men-folk.
Although at first sight this appears somewhat bizarre, it perhaps underlines the peacefulness of the society. Treated in this way by their women, men were highly unlikely to retain any of their aggressive traits; instead, they were far more likely to go through life relating to their women in a very subdued manner. It is a society that seems to have worked, and worked well.
THE VINCA CULTURE
existed in Yugoslavia between 5300BC – 4000BC. This seems also to have been a Goddess-orientated culture, although there is no evidence to indicate any resurgence in the dominant role of women in the society. That does not mean it did not exist and in fact the picture below stongly suggests a Vinca goddess figure seated on a toilet throne.
THE MINOAN CULTURE
dating between 3150BC – 1450BC, was certainly a female-dominated one. Based in Crete, its influence stretched to much of the Greek world. Men and women participated in the same sports and activities, but it was far from an equal society. The many depictions of Minoan art reveal that it was a matrilineal society, anchored in Goddess-worship. The main deity was apparently a snake goddess.
Minoan men wore loincloths and kilts, as a sign of their secondary place in society. Women wore robes open to the navel, leaving their breasts exposed, as a sign of their sexual freedom and superiority. Women enjoyed being prostitutes as a part of everyday life. It was actually expected of wives and daughters that they would have sex with at least one stranger. The eligibility of a wife was measured not by the wealth of her family, but by the number of men she had previously had sex with.
It was perhaps the first society in which cuckoldry was an accepted part of life, and was another example of female-dominated societies. Like the Catal Hoyuk civilisation, the Minoan gynocracy seemed to be one that worked. It was superseded in 1450BC by the Mycenaean culture, which came to espouse patriarchal religion.
THE LURISTAN CULTURE
in modern-day Iran was at its height between 1200BC and 800BC. Its people were called Lurs. Bronze artworks proliferated, and many examples of fine work have been found during excavations. The early Lurs worshipped the Capricornian Goddess, and it was to a certain extent a female dominated culture. One bronze pin was unearthed, shown below, depicting a woman urinating in the mouth of a man lying between her spread legs.
This seems to give clear evidence that the practice of dominant women urinating on their men had carried on from the Catal Hoyuk days, some 4000 years previously. That the practice had endured over all that time, is an indication that it had been found by various cultures as an effective way of subjugating men to women’s will.
WHERE IT WENT WRONG
It would appear the female-dominated societies of Neolithic times thrived until outside influences prevailed. One was the commencement of cattle rearing, which introduced the idea of matrimonial property; another was the advent of the Indo-European invasions of the near and middle east. Without these events, matriarchal societies would have continued unabated.
The proliferation of wars resulted in a rapid growth of patriarchal societies, and by the time of the Roman Empire all societies were equally male-dominated, and worshipping male deities. Many people, however, preferred Goddess-worship, and in 213BC the statue of Cybele together with the black meteorite representing her head were transported to Rome, wherein the cult of Cybele was reinstated as one of the primary religions of the state. Some time later, the emperor Caesar Augustus established Cybele as the chief divinity of the Roman Empire.
A temple was built to Cybele, but after a while was destroyed. It was rebuilt, and the cult of Cybele held sway until the 4th century AD, when Valentinian 11 banned the religion. Under Justinian, persecutions continued, and by the 6th century AD the cult was extinct. The temple was again destroyed. Elements of the cult were absorbed into Christianity, as had been the case previously with the cult of Isis. With the demise of the Cybelian cult went the golden opportunities and benefits provided by female-dominated societies.
THE PATRIARCHAL AGE
Although there were many patriarchal societies through history and pre-history, the patriarchal age of western civilisation in the past fifteen hundred years has been remarkably poor in its treatment of women. Whilst formerly women were afforded respect – in matrilineal and matriarchal societies as well as the few recorded gynocratic ones – and were afforded equal treatment to men in egalitarian societies, now they were reduced to being treated as property.
Fathers came to consider them as assets, in that dowries could be obtained for their hands in marriage. Husbands, having paid dowries, considered their wives as being slaves paid-for in advance. Naturally, women were forced to fit in with this mindset, and became no more than an appendage of their husbands. This led to women being considered to have no mind of their own; their will seen as being secondary to their husband’s will.
Men being of a stronger physical stature than women, many wives found themselves being ruled by an iron hand, or fist. Violence against women in the home grew as the centuries passed, until the act of a husband physically chastising his wife became normal, even acceptable, behaviour. One of the primary expectations of patriarchal society was that men kept order in their own houses. This keeping order invariably involved the use of physical force.
In time, generation after generation of women came to expect male abuse as their place in life. They faced severe financial restrictions, in that it was the man who controlled the finances. If they wished to get their way in anything, their only option was through guile, of through sexual behaviour. Women were reduced to using their body in order to get even the slightest thing from their husbands. If things got too bad, they had extreme difficulties in leaving. As the husband held the purse strings, it was extremely difficult for a woman to finance her departure, especially if children were involved.