Attempts to brand the belly dance as an act of seduction are both demeaning and distorting. Throughout Middle Eastern history, Oriental dance – the Western term for belly dance – was primarily performed at such family occasions as weddings, births, and festivals. Early evidence indicates that it originated as a fertility dance. 17,000 year-old rock engravings found in the caves of Addaura, near Palermo in Sicily, depict women swaying their hips in what appears to be a fertility rite, as do ancient Egyptian tomb paintings and Greek sculptures. In some early cultures, women gathered around one of their own when she was in labor, circling and mimicking her contractions with their stomach undulations in an effort to ease her through the birthing process. Early civilizations were far less regimented than those of today. Even so, it was believed that women were primarily responsible for procreation. Tribes in the South Seas, New Guinea, East Polynesia, Africa, and Greece not only thought that conception would be impossible, but also that the human race would die unless the women performed the fertility dance. In some cases, women were revered for their seeming command over the mysteries of nature; there are even accounts of females being brought into fields to touch the crops, so as to ensure a bountiful harvest.