Archaeologists in the Czech Republic believe a 5,000-year-old skeleton found in Prague may be the oldest known gay or perhaps transgender caveman.
The male remains, which date between 2900 and 2500 BC, were discovered in a way normally reserved for women from the Corded Ware culture in the Copper Age.
“The skeleton was found in a Prague suburb in the Czech Republic with its head pointing eastwards and surrounded by domestic jugs, rituals only previously seen in female graves,” reports The Telegraph.
Archaeologist Kamila Remisova Vesinova told the publication the positioning was unlikely to be a mistake, and that the man was likely someone “with a different sexual orientation, homosexual or transsexual.”
Her colleague Katerina Semradova told a press conferences this week archaeologists had previously uncovered a case from the Mesolithic period where a female warrior was buried in the manner reserved for men.
Vesinova and her colleagues told reporters that the man may have belonged to a “third gender.” This designation is for people who may be viewed as neither male nor female or some combination of both. In some cases, third-gender individuals are thought to be able to switch between male and female depending on circumstance. Modern examples include the Hijras of India and the Fa’afafine of Polynesia.
The skeleton has been trumpeted by some media as belonging to a “homosexual caveman,” but some archaeologists are skeptical. For one thing, the complexity of the third-gender concept makes calling the skeleton “gay” an oversimplification, wrote Kristina Killgrove, an anthropologist in Chapel Hill, N.C., in her blog, Bone Girl.
“If this burial represents a transgendered individual (as well it could), that doesn’t necessarily mean the person had a ‘different sexual orientation ‘ and certainly doesn’t mean that he would have considered himself (or that his culture would have considered him) ‘homosexual,'” Killgrove wrote.