Who does not know it: the division of girls and boys toys or professions. This view on the gender division was also solidified so far by the findings from archaeology/anthropology. It was assumed for a long time that hunting in early human times was mainly done by men. A study from the year 2020 shows now however that this conception should be at least questioned: It was discovered namely a burial place of before approx. 9000 years with a skeleton in the highlands of the Andes (Peru), with many hunt tools as grave addition. And this skeleton was female!
The hunting tools found next to the 17-19-year-old female included projectile points and also tools for making atlatls (spear throwers). Just the latter was used for big game hunting. Interestingly, a closer examination of skeletons of the same age, which were also found with such grave goods, showed that of the 27 skeletons so found, 11 were female and 16 were male. This suggests that big game hunting in the hunter-gatherer groups of the Americas was actually practiced by both men and women at this time. It was probably primarily very young women who participated in hunts at that time like young men. This participation of both sexes enlarged the hunting parties and thus presumably facilitated the capture of prey.
This is a very provocative theory, as the previous doctrine has held that hunting was done, primarily if not exclusively, by male members of past hunter-gatherer societies. Women in these societies would have tended to stay close to home with small children or would have fished and foraged = gathered for food.
This assumption comes from studies of recent hunter-gatherer societies, such as those that still exist in Africa, such as the Hazda in Tanzania. Here one concluded these few societies on the way of life of earlier times. But whether this is true?
- There are very well also recent indigenous tribes, in which the women go on the hunt. One of the most prominent examples is the Agta in the Philippines. The women carry machetes, they hunt with bows and arrows, even when they are pregnant. The prey is wild boar and deer, and the girls start hunting shortly after puberty. Children are also taken along, piggyback on their backs.
- Also in Russia, two skeletons were discovered at Sunghir – one was of a girl – found together with spears made of mammoth ivory. The Sunghir site is 34,000 years old.
Last but not least, in 2017 it was discovered that a Viking warrior whose burial site was discovered in the early 20th century was not a warrior at all, but a warrior woman.
All in all, the totality of the findings shows that even in early times there was probably not the simple model of the “boy’s profession” or the “girl’s profession”. This model is simply too simplistic and human behavior – who may do what and what – has always been very variable. Apparently more variable in earlier times than now. I have also been struck in this debate by how our thinking today also influences the interpretation of scientific findings. A Viking warrior is simply a man…… cannot be a woman at all, the thought is not even admitted ……
Source: Female hunters of the early Americas. Sci Adv. 2020 Nov 4;6(45):eabd0310. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abd0310. Print 2020 Nov.