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read the first, second, third and fourth A Note from Germany - read the German version


A Prehistory of Menstruation

by Petra Habiger (1998)

It is Jean M. Auel who created, in my opinion, one of the most fascinating and well-investigated novel cycles of prehistoric Europe. The thrilling, sensitively told story conveys in all respects a thorough insight into that age.

Mrs. Auel also dares to approach the topic "menstruation": Ayla, the female hero of the books, uses a kind of belt made from soft leather fixing some very soft sheep wool between her legs to absorb menstrual blood during her "moon time."

But here is no evidence from prehistory at all about the menstrual cycle and reflections to this effect can only be hypothetical. Ayla's device rather seems to be borrowed from the early 20th century pads and belts.


However, some construe the "Venus of Laussel," a female Ice Age figure painted with red ocher found in France (at left), as demonstrating the monthly cycle, because with one hand she points to her abdomen, and with the other she holds up a moon horn with 13 notches that has 14 bulges (2 x 14 = 28 days of the menstrual cycle) - but that is kind of a longshot interpretation.



It would also be absurd to allege ancient social structures based on the matriarchy, just because of the remarkable number of women's body portrayals found.

However, the moon has always seemed to have been a symbol for femininity. The regularity of moon phases (and menstrual cycles) was used for measuring time by picturing the three visible phases as three lines or the three corners of a triangle similar to a woman's vulva (stone vulva at left).



Jean M. Auel, "Ayla und das Tal der Großen Mutter," Crown Publishers, Inc. New York, 1990



For interested readers here are the other 3 books of the cycle:

Jean M. Auel, "The Clan of the Cave Bear," Crown Publishers, Inc. New York, 1980

Jean M. Auel, "The Valley of Horses," Crown Publishers, Inc. New York, 1982

Jean M. Auel, "The Mammoth Hunters," Crown Publishers, Inc. New York

Dr. Friederike Schneider, 1997

Marie E. P. König

If you have questions about menstruation or menstrual hygiene, don't hesitate to contact me via e-mail.


Next Note from Germany: Menstruation in Early History

First Page | FAQs

Take a short tour of MUM! (and on Web video!) - FAQ - Tampon Safety Act - Visit or contact the actual museum - Board of Directors - Norwegian menstruation exhibit - The media and the MUM - Menstrual odor - Prof. Mack C. Padd: Fat Cat - The science and medicine of menstruation - Early tampons - Books about menstruation - Menstrual cups: history, comments - Letters - Links

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