Hands on Research: The Application of the 2D:4D Ratio to Children’s Hand Stencils




Cooke, Amanda

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Handprints and hand stencils are a ubiquitous element of rock art. For archaeologists, they represent a window onto the lives and communities of practice of prehistoric peoples. They are a means of recognizing the individual in the archaeological record and their contribution to the production of rock art. Children represent an understudied archaeological demographic despite comprising 50% of many prehistoric populations. In this thesis, I investigate the applicability of the 2D:4D ratio for sexing children’s hand stencils in a modern context. Based on a sample of 318 living children between the ages of 5 and 16 years old, I analyzed the degree of variance between the ratio derived from the soft-tissue measurements, and the ratio derived from a hand stencil created by the same child. The results of this research support my prediction that the 2D: 4D ratio cannot be used reliably to sex children’s hand stencils archaeologically.



Archaeology, Rock Art, Handprints, Negative Hand Stencils, Children