It may be common knowledge that pre-civilization humanity was divided by gender and function; the men were noted to be hunters and the women were gathers. But did the history books lie?
Dr. Cara Ocobock, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Director of the Human Energetics Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame, collaborated with Sarah Lacy from the University of Delaware, to present research that revealed that men were not the only hunters in prehistory.
The groundbreaking findings published in the journal American Anthropologist prove that contrary to traditional assumptions, males were not biologically superior to women. Dr. Cara’s study, drawing from physiological and archaeological evidence, revealed that prehistoric women not only engaged in hunting but were anatomically better suited for it.
After examining the fossil records of both sexes, researchers found injuries caused by close-contact hunting, indicating women actively participated in this hazardous pursuit. The injuries mirrored those of modern bull fighters, suggesting women engaged in up-close hunting of large game animals. The research derived from archaeological evidence, challenging the perception of hunting as a predominantly male activity.
Physiologically, the female body demonstrated a capacity for the demanding task of hunting that was not prevalent in men, with a metabolism favoring endurance. According to Dr. Cara, estrogen and adiponectin, hormones more abundant in females, played crucial roles in modulating glucose and fat, essential for sustained athletic performance.
Dr. Cara highlighted findings from the Holocene period in Peru, where female remains were discovered along with hunting tools. This, she argued, indicated the importance of hunting in the lives of prehistoric women.
Contrary to the notion of a strict sexual division of labor, the research suggested that prehistoric women likely continued hunting even during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or while caring for children. Dr. Cara determined that hunting was a shared endeavor, challenging the historical ‘fact’ that hunting was strictly the man’s duty.
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