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Symmetry is sexy: reply to Hodgson's ‘Symmetry and humans’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2015

Robert P. Burriss*
*Department of Anthropology, Carpenter Building, The Pennsylvania State University, PA 16802, USA (Email:


In his contribution to the Antiquity debate over the viability of Kohn and Mithen's 'Sexy Handaxe Theory' (1999),Hodgson (2009: 195-8) asserts that 'symmetry is not connected with health and thus cannot have served as a sign of genetic worth'. Because I find his interpretation of the current literature on symmetry and its relationship to health and attractiveness to be flawed, I cannot accept Hodgson's argument. I address each of my concerns below in the first part of this response. I also remain unconvinced that, even if Hodgson's assertion were supported by the literature, it would necessarily follow that symmetry in manufactured objects, including Acheulean handaxes, cannot signal 'sexiness'. In the second part of my response I explain why I consider this to be so.

Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd 2009

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