Researchers from the Czech Archaeological Society made an interesting discovery outside of Prague: The 5,000-year-old remains of a caveman were buried in an unusual manner. First, the male body was lying on its left side and its head was facing east. Second, the body was buried with domestic jugs and an egg-shaped pot.
Why is this odd? Time reports the way the body was buried might mean the man was gay, because the burial is consistent with the way women were buried. The bodies of men faced west and they were buried with hammers, flint knives and weapons.
"From history and ethnology, we know that people from this period took funeral rites very seriously so it is highly unlikely that this positioning was a mistake," [Kamila Remisova Vesinova, a researcher for the Czech Archaeological Society,] said at a press conference. "Far more likely is that he was a man with a different sexual orientation, homosexual or transsexual."
Vesinova told Iran's Press TV that the man would have lived during the Stone Age's Corded Ware culture, which existed between 2,500 and 2,800 BC.
She added that Siberian shamans, or witch doctors, were also buried in this way but with richer funeral accessories appropriate to their elevated position in society.
"This later discovery was neither of those," she said. "We believe this is one of the earliest cases of what could be described as a transvestite or third-gender grave in the Czech Republic."
Now, let's sound a note of skepticism here: Dr. Lemont Dobson, a historian and archaeologist at Drury University, told us determining the sex of a skeleton by looking at the pelvis is 90 percent accurate but not perfect.
"There is always the possibility that the individual had some form of shamanistic role in their society," he says. "If so, the female position would be appropriate. I know the excavator suggests that this was not the case, but I am not convinced by the argument. I haven't seen enough compelling reason to discount such a role in this case." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.