Natural Science

published : 2023-11-28

New Study Reveals Prehistoric Women Were Hunters as Well as Gatherers

Research Shows Hormones and Genetics Played a Role in Women's Ability to Perform Physical Tasks

A photo of a group of prehistoric women hunting in a forest, capturing their strength and determination. Taken with a Nikon Z7.

Newly published studies suggest that women in prehistoric times were not limited to domestic tasks as previously believed.

Cara Ocobock, an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, along with research partner Sarah Lacy from the University of Delaware, made an intriguing discovery while studying prehistoric women.

Their research, published in the journal American Anthropologist, revealed that prehistoric females were capable of performing physical activities like hunting and were, in fact, better equipped for the task.

By analyzing fossils, the researchers found that prehistoric women displayed hunting injuries similar to those of men, indicating their active participation in hunting.

Both male and female fossils showed equal rates of wear and tear from hunting activities, further supporting the conclusion that both genders engaged in hunting during prehistoric times.

In a fascinating finding, women were also discovered to be buried with weapons, a practice usually reserved for individuals who valued hunting and used weapons frequently in their lives.

A close-up shot of a prehistoric female fossil with hunting injuries, showcasing the physical prowess of women in ancient times. Taken with a Canon EOS R5.

This new evidence challenges long-held beliefs that prehistoric women were solely responsible for food preparation and child-rearing.

Ocobock and Lacy attribute the physical abilities of prehistoric women to specific hormones found in their bodies.

Estrogen, in particular, plays a crucial role in cardiovascular and metabolic health, brain development, and injury recovery.

The researchers also note the presence of adiponectin, a hormone that amplifies fat metabolism and provides protection against damaged cells under extended heat exposure.

On top of hormonal factors, the wider hip structure of females was identified as an advantage in hunting, allowing them to rotate their hips for longer strides.

By reevaluating human physiology from this perspective, Ocobock suggests that women can be seen as natural endurance athletes, analogous to marathon runners, while men excel in powerlifting.

An archaeological artifact of a prehistoric woman's burial site, featuring weapons that highlight the importance of hunting in their culture. Taken with a Sony A7 III.

The importance of these findings extends beyond academia, offering a fresh perspective on gender roles in prehistoric societies.

Ocobock argues that previous reconstructions of the past heavily emphasized the roles of men, often overlooking the vital contributions of women in labor and sustenance.

This research serves as a stepping stone towards a more comprehensive understanding of our evolutionary history and challenges traditional narratives.

As more evidence emerges, the equal roles played by men and women in prehistoric societies become increasingly apparent.

The exploration of prehistoric women as hunters sparks intrigue and invites us to reimagine the narratives of our ancient ancestors.

Ultimately, this study urges us to question the prevailing assumptions about gender roles and to acknowledge the full extent of women's contributions throughout human history.