A Companion to Gender Prehistory
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An authoritative guide on gender prehistory for researchers, instructors and students in anthropology, archaeology, and gender studies

  • Provides the most up-to-date, comprehensive coverage of gender archaeology, with an exclusive focus on prehistory
  • Offers critical overviews of developments  in the archaeology of gender over the last 30 years, as well as assessments of current trends and prospects for future research
  • Focuses on recent Third Wave approaches to the study of gender in early human societies, challenging heterosexist biases, and  investigating the interfaces between gender and  status, age,  cognition, social memory, performativity, the body, and sexuality
  • Features numerous regional and thematic topics authored by established specialists in the field,   with incisive coverage of gender research in prehistoric and protohistoric cultures of Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and the Pacific


Diane Bolger is a Research Fellow in Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. In addition to her research on gender, she specializes in the ceramics of early agricultural societies in the ancient Near East, particularly in Cyprus, where she has been involved in fieldwork since the early 1980s. Her major publications on gender include three books: Gender in Ancient Cyprus (2003), Engendering Aphrodite: Women and Society in Ancient Cyprus (2002), and Gender through Time in the Ancient Near East (2008).


List of Illustrations x

List of Tables xiii

Notes on Contributors xiv

Acknowledgments xxii

Introduction: Gender Prehistory – The Story So Far 1
Diane Bolger

Part I Thematic Perspectives in Gender Prehistory 21

Section 1 Current Themes and Debates 21

1 Engendering Human Evolution 23
Adrienne Zihlman

2 Gender, Complexity, and Power in Prehistory 45
Scott R. Hutson, Bryan K. Hanks, and K. Anne Pyburn

3 Archaeology of Embodied Subjectivities 68
Teresa Dujnic Bulger and Rosemary A. Joyce

4 Queer Prehistory: Bodies, Performativity, and Matter 86
Benjamin Alberti

5 The Future of Gender in Prehistoric Archaeology 108
Margaret W. Conkey

Section 2 Gender and Prehistoric Material Culture 121

6 Gender and Prehistoric Rock Art 122
Kelley Hays-Gilpin

7 Gender and Lithic Studies in Prehistoric Archaeology 142
Nyree Finlay

8 Gender, Labor, and Pottery Production in Prehistory 161
Diane Bolger

9 Gender and Textile Production in Prehistory 180
Cathy Lynne Costin

Section 3 Gendered Bodies and Identities in Prehistory 203

10 Personhood in Prehistory: A Feminist Archaeology in Ten Persons 204
Yvonne Marshall

11 Bioarchaeological Approaches to the Gendered Body 226
Joanna Sofaer

12 Figurines, Corporeality, and the Origins of the Gendered Body 244
Douglass W. Bailey

13 Goddesses in Prehistory 265
Lucy Goodison and Christine Morris

Part II Regional Perspectives in Gender Prehistory 289

Section 4 Gender Prehistory in Africa and Asia 289

14 Gender in North African Prehistory 291
Barbara E. Barich

15 Gender in the Prehistory of Sub-Saharan Africa 313
Lyn Wadley

16 Gender and Archaeology in Coastal East Asia 333
Sarah Milledge Nelson

17 Gender Archaeology in East Asia and Eurasia 351
Katheryn M. Linduff and Karen S. Rubinson

18 Gender in Southwest Asian Prehistory 372
Diane Bolger and Rita P. Wright

Section 5 Gender in European Prehistory 395

19 The History of Gender Archaeology in Northern Europe 396
Marie Louise Stig Sørensen

20 Gender in Eastern European Prehistory 413
John Chapman and Nona Palincaº

21 Gender and Feminism in the Prehistoric Archaeology of Southwest Europe 438
Margarita Díaz-Andreu and Sandra Montón-Subías

22 Gender in British Prehistory 458
Benjamin Edwards and Rachel Pope

23 Gender in Central Mediterranean Prehistory 480
Ruth Whitehouse

24 Gender in Greek and Aegean Prehistory 502
Louise Hitchcock and Marianna Nikolaidou

Section 6 Gender Prehistory in the Americas and the South Pacific 526

25 Gender in the Prehistory of the Eastern United States 527
Cheryl Claassen

26 The Archaeology of Gender in Western North America 544
Alice Beck Kehoe

27 The Archaeology of Gender in Mesoamerica: Moving Beyond Gender Complementarity 564
Elizabeth M. Brumfiel

28 Gender in South American Prehistory 585
Melissa A. Vogel and Robyn E. Cutright

29 Gender and Archaeology in Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the South Pacific 608
Cherrie De Leiuen

Index 628


“In short, as this volume shows us, there is no doubt that the gender perspective has been the strongest theoretical and methodological stimulus for the study of prehistory during the last decades. Adopting such a perspective provides a much more complex panorama of prehistoric societies than that which has been described to date. Such a panorama is, in turn, infinitely more stimulating.”  (European Journal of Archaeology, 1 March 2014)

“Part 2's strength is its global breadth, with most contributors offering a synthesized and regionally bounded historiography of gender studies. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.”  (Choice, 1 July 2013)


“This enormous book contains it all: past studies, current theory, everyone on gender. I can’t wait to own a copy!”
- Joan Gero, American University

“The publication of A Companion to Gender Prehistory signals a new era in feminist and queer archaeology. With contributions from both established and emerging scholars throughout the world, this volume showcases the diversity and strengths of gender-focused archaeology in the study of the deep past. The authors stimulate our curiosity about the long history of gender and sexuality and chart new directions for emerging research.”
- Barbara L. Voss, Stanford University