Handprints indicate: many European cave artists were female!

July 1, 2009

The cave art mural 'spotted horses' in the Pech-Merle in France is featured with 6 handprints.

Handprints indicate: many European cave artists were female!

So far most scientists have assumed that prehistoric handprints on cave walls were male. Archaeologist Dean Snow from Pennsylvania State University has recently described in National Geographic that the characteristics of many cave handprints indicate that there are lots of female hands among them!

For about as long as humans have created works of art, they’ve also left behind handprints. People began stenciling, painting, or chipping imprints of their hands onto rock walls at least 30,000 years ago. An illustrative example concerns the Cosquer Cave (Marseille, France), where 55 handprints have been found.

Hand proportions vary across populations – some illustrative examples are presented in this collection of celebrities handprints. To assess prehistoric handprints from Europe, Snow used modern hands for comparison. By measuring and analyzing the Pech Merle Cave (Cabrerets, France) hand stencils, Snow found that many were female.

Professor Dean Snow.

Professor of Archaeological Anthropology Dean Snow says:

“The very long ring finger on the left is a dead giveaway for male hands. The one on the right has a long index finger and a short pinky – thus very feminine.”

The left cave handprint has a long ring finger - which is typical for males; the right cave handprint with long index finger & short pinky - typical for females.

SUGGESTION FOR FURTHER READING:
Evolutionary hand analysis!
Males vs. Females: sexe differences in the hand!

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2 Responses to “Handprints indicate: many European cave artists were female!”


  1. […] The evolution of the human hand! • The oldest portrait of man – it’s a handprint! • Handprints indicate: many European cave artists were female! • More news about […]


  2. […] a report earlier this year in National Geographic about the oldest prehistoric handprints in French and Spanish cave walls, researchers have reported this month in Nature found that human […]

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