NPJ Book Review: The Prehistory of Sex by Timothy Taylor

The Prehistory of Sex by Timothy Taylor, Four Million Years of Human Sexual Culture. (1996)

When I first purchased this work over two decades ago while working as a library director and reviewing any number of works in ancient history, archaeology and anthropology, I read this book  as a comparative study and gave myself time to digest it. Taylor was a lecturer in archaeology at the University of Bradford in the UK at the time and known for his expertise in prehistory.

Since then I have consulted this multiple essay like study and found it more remarkable than when I first read it. Whether one agrees with some of his findings I have since researched his insights, bibliography and acknowledgements. Taylor did his homework!

Briefly, sex  was more diverse in ancient cultures than once thought. The issues we deal with today were evident among the findings in ancient humans. My take, there’s nothing new under the sun. Human sexual relationships from heterosexuality to homosexuality and everything in between and beyond were in place among the most ancient of tribal cultures with the associated rituals. People enjoyed sex. it wasn’t only for procreation. There is also an appreciation for the evolution of nakedness, clothing and ritual. Taylor’s ideas were considered provocative.

Today we dress our sexuality up through our technologies. Of course one must remember during ancient times people didn’t think of themselves as “ancient.” The same with all other ages that we “label” and categorize from our so-called “post modern perspective.”  At the time the people considered themselves as “up to date” within their cultural context. They explored their sexuality and were more aware of it then previously conjectured.

The Prehistory of Sex is worth a second look. There’s been a number of cherry picked reviews of this work and taken out of context. That’s unfortunate. The author has offered some brilliant scholarly insights that become more significant and thought-provoking with age.