Re: Origin of circumcision

Gerold Firl (
27 Nov 1995 12:29:46 -0800

In article <> (Les and Carol Hiddins) writes:

>Ref your BBS on Circumscision ..... yes Australian Aboriginals
>do/have in the past practiced this, but ..... the area where it
>happened is restricted to the central desert areas of the continent
>as you mention.

Lets be specific about this: it's *subincision*, not circumcision. A much
more radical operation, and one which may have very different functional
relationships to resource management and group identification than

For instance, subincision may have a direct influence on rates of
conception; semen dribbles out at the base of the penis, rather than being
ejected against the cervix.

>So the real question is as far as Australia is
>concerned, how did the practice get to the inland areas of the
>continent but not take hold on the coastal areas?

surely subincision was independantly invented in australia?

The dynamics of how the custom spread, and what factors caused it to be
maintained, would certainly make an interesting study. Any ideas? I don't
mind speculating on minimal data, but in this case I have none, so I'll
reserve judgement. If you have any suhggestions, I'd like to hear them.

>I would be
>interested in what you have to say on this matter as I am currently
>researching the possibility that perhaps Australian Aboriginal people
>had pre 1788 contact.

I think they certainly had contact with melanesians on a regular basis, and
very limited, incidental contact with polynesians, at least during the
polynesian discovery period. Since the australian interior didn't produce
any trade goods which could sustain long-distance contact, the effects of
such contact appear to be minimal.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf