Lady Sapiens: Breaking Stereotypes About Prehistoric Women
by Eric Pincas, Jennifer Kerner & Thomas Cirotteau
Lady Sapiens is a nonfiction book, translated from French, that offers a great introduction to what we know about women who lived during the Upper Paleolithic period (40,000 to 10,000 years ago). The authors report on what the latest science says about our human ancestors in a clear, no-nonsense way and you learn a lot from reading it. The book is also very nicely illustrated.
Q: You’ve made a film and also written a book, Lady Sapiens, which I really enjoyed. Is the basic idea behind both to look at what academics have found out and put it all together so a popular audience can understand what’s happening in the science?
A: Yes, exactly. We started working on this project in 2018. We had just finished a documentary about Neanderthals and were thinking about what we would work on next. There had just been an important new discovery about our species, homo sapiens, in Morocco, at the Jebel Irhoud. They said this early homo sapiens was 300,000 years old, so we’re older than we thought—our species gained around 100,000 years of existence.
But they were only speaking about men, and the story of man is not the story of humanity. There were also women. Where were they in this story? That question was our starting point. We weren’t sure what we would find, if anything. We turned to Sophie de Beaune, who became our scientific adviser. She did a summary for us of all the research over the last 30 years, everything science has found out about women in prehistory.
The best books on Prehistoric Women recommended by Thomas Cirotteau
Our most recommended books
Age Proof: The New Science of Living a Longer and Healthier Life
by Rose Anne Kenny
Hot Air: The Inside Story of the Battle Against Climate Change Denial
by Peter Stott
The Greywacke: How a Priest, a Soldier and a School Teacher Uncovered 300 Million Years of History
by Nick Davidson
Different: What Apes Can Teach Us About Gender
by Frans de Waal
Spike: The Virus vs. The People - the Inside Story
by Jeremy Farrar & with Anjana Ahuja
A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth: 4.6 Billion Years in 12 Chapters
by Henry Gee