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New study reveals that prehistrotic women were on the forefront of hunting with men

Researchers have found evidence to argue against traditional claims of men doing the hunting and women doing the gathering.

New study reveals that prehistrotic women were on the forefront of hunting with men
Representative Cover Image Source: Rock painting depicting men hunting with dogs, Tassili N'Ajjer National Park, Tadrart Rouge, Algeria on December 30, 2022, in Tadrart Rouge, Algeria. (Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Getty Images)

A little digging into history will show us that gender stereotypes and preconceived notions around it have long since plagued men and women, setting the dialogue for accepted norms today. A report published by the Heritage Daily tells us that past researchers have been guilty of generally associating hunting with men and gathering with women, attributing it to physiological factors. However, another research published in the same report rebuttals such claims putting forth evidence of women hunting, setting things into perspective once and for all.

Representative Image Source: The dancers of Cogul. Cave painting from the Roca de los Moros (Roca dels Moros). Found in the Collection of Museu d'Arqueologia de Catalunya, Barcelona. (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
Representative Image Source: The dancers of Cogul. Cave painting from the Roca de los Moros (Roca dels Moros). Found in the Collection of Museu d'Arqueologia de Catalunya, Barcelona. (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

A report by National Geographic describes this hunter-gatherer culture as a type of subsistence lifestyle that relied on hunting animals and scouring for wild vegetation and food. Hunting being the primary focus in those lifestyles, put men in a more historically dominant social position owing to claims furthering men being synonymous with hunting.



 

This theory that men were solely involved in hunting, garnered more popularity when anthropologists Richard B. Lee and Irven DeVore published "Man the Hunter," a collection of scholarly papers presented at a symposium in 1966. The thought process was challenged by researchers from the University of Notre Dame who analyzed the division of labor as per sex, during the Palaeolithic era, approximately 2.5 million to 12,000 years ago. They took into consideration, contemporary archaeological findings and literature. Through all their findings they could not find any proof that only men were involved in hunting.

Image Source: TADRART ROUGE, ALGERIA - DECEMBER 31: Rock painting depicting men with swords, Tassili N'Ajjer National Park, Tadrart Rouge, Algeria on December 31, 2022 in Tadrart Rouge, Algeria. (Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)
Representative Image Source: Rock painting depicting men with swords, Tassili N'Ajjer National Park, Tadrart Rouge, Algeria on December 31, 2022, in Tadrart Rouge, Algeria. (Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)

This prompted them to examine female physiology as past research like those of DeVore and Lee did not consider it strong enough for hunting. They found that certain patterns exhibited by females made them better at hunting in comparison to men. The evidence that the gender was excluded from the activity was found to be scant and not overwhelming as previously assumed. Moreover, the evidence they did end up collecting reflected equality in dietary practices, artistic expressions, burial customs and anatomical characteristics. It implied that both genders enjoyed an equal status in the household and society, which would not have been possible if there was a significant difference between the activities performed by men and women.

Image Source: TADRART ROUGE, ALGERIA - DECEMBER 30: Rock painting depicting hunting gazelles, Tassili N'Ajjer National Park, Tadrart Rouge, Algeria on December 30, 2022 in Tadrart Rouge, Algeria. (Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)
Representative Image Source: Rock painting depicting hunting gazelles, Tassili N'Ajjer National Park, Tadrart Rouge, Algeria on December 30, 2022, in Tadrart Rouge, Algeria. (Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)

In analyzing the anatomy of Paleolithic men and women the researchers concluded that men displayed stronger performance in endeavors that required speed and power. On the other hand, women were better in endurance which was needed for activities like long-distance running. This has been proven by the existence of estrogen in women. Estrogen, a female hormone aids in enhancing fat metabolism, which gives muscles a longer-lasting energy source and can regulate muscle breakdown. This prevents muscles from tiring during demanding activities. Scientists have found proof regarding the receptors of this hormone in women's bodies for at least the last 600 million years.

 

“When we take a deeper look at the anatomy and the modern physiology and then actually look at the skeletal remains of ancient people, there’s no difference in trauma patterns between males and females, because they’re doing the same activities,” said Professor Lacy from the University of Delaware. The study thus concluded that for 3 million years both men and women participated in hunting and had an equal contribution towards the household.

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