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Madrid.– Cave men had sex on their mind and they put it on their walls in etched and painted images that portray an aspect of carnal pleasure beyond the merely reproductive, according to two Spanish experts on the subject.

Eroticism is not an interest exclusive to modern humans, and the first Homo sapiens to arrive in Europe 40,000 years ago already exhibited complex sexual behavior that they illustrated in a few cave paintings, creating humanity's first Kama Sutra.

Two professors at the Universidad del Pais Vasco in northern Spain, Marcos Garcia Diez and Javier Angulo, are among the few archaeologists who are studying these artistic renderings of erotic behavior among early humans.

The archaeologists said the etchings and paintings show that during the Upper Paleolithic Period (starting about 40,000 years ago) sex ceased being a purely biological function linked to reproduction and became another cultural element.

Garcia Diez, co-author with Angulo of the book "Sexo en piedra" (Sex in Stone), said this early separation between the sensual and the merely reproductive was due to the fact that "the sexual appetite conditions humans as a species" and does so in such a big way that it led us to express it in art since pre-historic times.

He said this was behind the numerous female figurines produced in pre-historic times as fertility symbols, with rotund shapes and generous figures.

Early humans used the figurines to "make clear the role of women as givers of life," as well as producing male figures with erect phalluses as visible representations of virility, Garcia Diez said.

Abstract drawings of human sexual organs depicted with points and lines were produced by pre-historic artists who wanted to document their sexual activity.

Early humans also produced highly realistic drawings of sexual activity on the walls of a few caves from Siberia to the Iberian Peninsula.

Angulo noted that even though images of a sexual nature were quite scarce, several good examples could be found in central Spain's Los Casares cave, where a coital scene was drawn, and in the grottos of Chufin and El Castillo, in the north, which each have etchings with phallic forms.

At other sites, especially in France and Portugal, images of copulation, hugs, kisses, oral sex, a supposed instance of bestialism and even masturbation have been found, all with a deeply symbolic and erotic character that "talk to us of the way these people understood their own sensuality."

Angulo said other images of threesomes have not been confirmed in an explicit fashion, but during the dig in Enlene, France, they found a 13,000-year-old etched plaque showing two people in a coital position and a third looking at them "in a way that looks like voyeurism."

Oral sex was also illustrated in this pre-historic Kama Sutra, but only a few artworks of this type have been found, perhaps the best example being an etching in La Marche, France.

Masturbation was shown in an etched image in Foz Coa, Portugal, of some lines coming out of the head of a man, illustrating the moment of orgasm, according to the researchers.

Garcia Diez said the existence of homosexuality "can be neither confirmed nor denied" because "the poorly defined appearance of some of the characters" participating in some of the scenes "leaves open that possibility." Spain is home to the Altamira caves, considered one of the pre-eminent jewels of pre-historic art.

Discovered in 1868, the limestone galleries located in the town of Santillana del Mar, in the Cantabria region of northern Spain, are decorated with figures daubed in color or incised on the ceiling by our Stone Age ancestors some 15,000 years ago.

Officials stopped allowing visitors to the caves in 2002 because they determined that the traffic through the caverns was harmful to the paintings.

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