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Coriat, I. (1931). A Note on Symbolic Castration in Prehistoric Man. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 12:492-495.

(1931). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 12:492-495

A Note on Symbolic Castration in Prehistoric Man

Isador Coriat

In a recent volume by Sir Arthur Keith there is given an account of Miss Dorothy Garrod's excavations in 1928 in some of the caves of ancient Palestine. In the deepest stratum of one of these caves there was found an abundance of flint implements corresponding with the Aurignacian and later cave cultures of Europe, dating from about 15, 000 to 20, 000 years ago (upper Palæolithic level), and also a number of human fragments. Among these fragments there was one of an upper jaw which is of particular psycho-analytical interest; it is described in part by Keith as follows: 'The later cave dwellers of Shukbah practised a rite which is still observed by many negro tribes of Africa. They removed one or both upper central incisors in youth, which resulted in atrophy of the corresponding alveolar part of the upper jaw and in an upgrowth of the unopposed lower incisors. In figure 64 a drawing is reproduced of the right half of the palate of one of the Shukbah people: it came from the deepest stratum of the cave and has male characters. … My main object is to draw attention to the practice of removing the upper incisors. If only one example had been found, the early loss of an upper incisor might be attributed to accident. Altogether five palates were sufficiently complete to give evidence of this practice. In only one palate are we certain that there was no extraction. In one case extraction was confined to the upper incisor of the right side. … In another instance both central incisors had been extracted. … In three of the five men one or both upper central incisors had been removed in early youth. Evidence of the practice is found in the uppermost as well as in the deepest stratum of the cave.

'It so happened, a little before the British School in Jerusalem submitted to me human remains from Shukbah, that Mr. Alonzo W.

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