News flash: Prehistoric women were just as silly and frivolous as modern women! At least according to an MSNBC article headlined "Prehistoric Women Had Passion for Fashion." After reading Catherine Price's post on the extinction of the Neanderthals being blamed on feminism, Broadsheet reader Allison Sherrill sent us a link to this pop archaeology piece. It leads with this eyebrow raiser: "If the figurines found in an ancient European settlement are any guide, women have been dressing to impress for at least 7,500 years."
Archaeologists did indeed discover figurines of women wearing bracelets, short skirts and ornamented tops at an excavation site in Plocknik, Serbia. But, Sherrill, a graduate student in anthropology, wrote us with this complaint:
"This type of news coverage typically frustrates archaeologists. Unfortunately very common -- in order to make a better story, the media frequently portray a very tentative conclusion as well-supported truth, and furthermore, those hypotheses are often twisted into a meaning that the archaeologist never intended. In this case, some figurines that portray women in some kind of costume have been spun into a sweeping conclusion about women's innate love to shop. The article even mentions that the archaeologists felt that their most important find had to do with early copper production, but obviously, that headline does not look nearly as exciting (or maybe they just couldn't think of one that rhymed?)."