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View Diary: Two years ago: Archaeologists announce discovery of 5000-year-old transgender skeleton (104 comments)

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  •  Until this is published (4+ / 0-)
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    kyril, rserven, RiveroftheWest, Avilyn

    in a real archaeology journal (it might have already, I just haven't seen it), there is really no way for me to review this stuff well.

    I am running with the assumption that most decent archaeologists can sex a skeleton...the ID could be wrong, but I'd put my money on the ID being right.

    Basically, there are several different things going on here.

    Is the skeleton of a gay man...who the hell knows, the evidence points to transgendered, but that does not say a thing about sexuality.

    Is the skeleton a shaman...based on the description, I doubt it.  They typically are buried with some rather distinctive things that are lacking here.

    Is the skeleton 3rd gender, or 'reversed' gender...based on the finds, it appears reversed gender (male buried as female), not, as Joyce says, 3rd gender.  All that said, figuring out what flavor of transgender this person was is more tentative than identifying it as being generally 'transgender'.

    As for IDing the sex from a photo of the pelvis, not gonna do it.  Its just not reliable.  As for just looking at the rest of the skeleton, that's not very reliable even when you have the skeleton in front of you, let alone from photographs.

    "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

    by Empty Vessel on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 02:25:11 PM PDT

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    •  Thanks (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest, Kimbeaux

      I think you hit the nail on the head when you describe the problem

      As for just looking at the rest of the skeleton, that's not very reliable even when you have the skeleton in front of you, let alone from photographs.
      The trouble is a bit like many court cases - people have been trained by the likes of CSI to believe assessing the sex of an individual from skeletal remains is easy and can be found to have been mistaken on re-examination or using other methods such as DNA. No doubt they would be surprised by this:
      There are two kinds of sexual characteristics: primary and secondary. Primary are the genetic markers and sexual organs. The secondary characteristics are the ones that normally develop in puberty, such as wider pelvis for women and extra muscle mass for men. Archaeologists mainly deal with secondary sexual characteristics. These, and this is important, are not binary, but exist in a fluid scale from hyper feminine to hyper masculine. Usually five categories are used: female, female?, indetermined, male? and male.
      With the complications of not having available the dig report, confirmation of sex, etc I would tend to agree with Campbell's commentary that
      In the absence of such knowledge and much more information about this burial and others from the same time/place, the most we can say is that this appears to be an unusual burial of uncertain significance. While it is never fun pouring cold scientific water on sensational headlines, it is sometimes necessary.

      "Who stood against President Obama in 2012?" - The trivia question nobody can answer.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 03:04:50 PM PDT

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      •  Typing error (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RiveroftheWest

        part of the paragraph under where I quote you "is easy and can be found..." should have been "is easy and not be found..."

        "Who stood against President Obama in 2012?" - The trivia question nobody can answer.

        by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 03:10:33 PM PDT

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