Determining the sexual identities of prehistoric cave artists using digitized handprints: a machine learning approach


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MM '10: Proceedings of the 18th ACM international conference on Multimedia


The sexual identities of human handprints inform hypotheses regarding the roles of males and females in prehistoric contexts. Sexual identity has previously been manually determined by measuring the ratios of the lengths of the individual's fingers as well as by using other physical features. Most conventional studies measure the lengths manually and thus are often constrained by the lack of scaling information on published images. We have created a method that determines sex by applying modern machine-learning techniques to relative measures obtained from images of human hands. This is the known attempt at substituting automated methods for time-consuming manual measurement in the study of sexual identities of prehistoric cave artists. Our study provides quantitative evidence relevant to sexual dimorphism and the sexual division of labor in Upper Paleolithic societies. In addition to analyzing historical handprint records, this method has potential applications in criminal forensics and human-computer interaction.

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