The phallus that Mark has drawn attention to in his recent posting is not that unusual, although I can’t imagine stone is very comfortable… What is different is perhaps the fact that the story has gone public. In his 1997 book The Prehistory of Sex: Four Million Years of Human Sexual Culture, archaeologist Tim Taylor points out that there are many prehistoric artifacts that relate to sex, from pornographic cave art to double-ended phalluses, that have been quietly hidden from public view. Simply call the phallus a ‘spear straightener’ and no-one will be interested in it. This may be because the archaeologists are embarrassed by their discoveries, but may also reflect their social prejudices: some of these findings depict or imply sex acts that are frowned upon by our culture, such as gay sex or bestiality (with reindeer, in case you were wondering). In some cases they may also challenge our view of prehistoric gender roles. He recounts one example of a skeleton found buried with an item that appeared to be a sword. When the skeleton was later found to be female the item was reclassified as a weaving baton. It seems that the idea that a woman might have been a warrior or leader was too radical for the archaeologists concerned. These discoveries, therefore, not only shed light on the lives of our ancestors, but the way in which we respond to them says a great deal about our own culture.