Think about the illustrations you’ve determined of men and women of the Bronze Age who lived thousands of years ago.
Perhaps there’s one you recollect from your elementary school text volume — in which humen are likely illustrated hurling bronze lances and strangling lions with their bare hands, while the women are most likely depicted producing children under, sifting through grapes or weaving tiny reeds into baskets( presumably to hold the fruits of their husbands’ labor ).
It’s an idealized image for some. Men and women, subdividing labor according to their own relative physical strength. Women did important job, but entirely in the domestic realm, in part because they were less equipped to handle difficult manual labor. Each gender in their natural place. A comforting image of the style “the worlds” “supposed to be.”
And according to new research, it’s an image that’s totally wrong in a major behavior.
According to a groundbreaking new analyse, Bronze Age women were jacked .
Armed with a small CT scanner and a group of student guinea pigs, University of Cambridge researchers discovered that the arm bones of Central European women working in the epoch were roughly 30% stronger than those of modern ladies — and 11% to 16% stronger than those of modern women on the “the worlds” champion Cambridge women’s crew team, who expend multiple hours per day trained to rowing a 60 -foot boat as fast as humanly possible.
“This is the first study to actually compare prehistoric female bones to those of living women, ” explained Alison Macintosh, research chap at the University of Cambridge and lead writer of the study, in a news release.
The paper was published in the open-access journal Science Advances.
Agriculture, it turns out, is hard work. Work that Bronze Age ladies handled on the reg.
Particularly grinding grain into flour, which requires the use of ludicrously heavy stones.
Based on indication from civilizations that still make bread products this lane, health researchers determined the prehistoric females likely spent up to five hours a day pulverizing the edible bits so their villages could actually eat food while “the mens” were derping around trophy hunting hyenas.
“The repetitive arm act of grinding these stones together for hours may have loaded women’s arm bones in a similar way to the laborious back-and-forth motion of rowing, ” Macintosh said.
In addition to grinding grain, researchers speculate ancient ladies get up to a range of other muscle mass-building activities…
…including drag food for livestock, slaughtering and butchering animals for food, rubbing the scalp off of dead kine and deadlifting it onto hooks to turn it into leather, and planting and harvesting harvests wholly by hand.
And, while punching carries and ceremonially flinging boulders at the sunlight weren’t on the researchers’ specific listing, it’s at the least possible the women were doing that too.
“We believe it may be the wide variety of women’s work that in part attains it so difficult to identify signatures of any one specific behavior from their bones, ” Macintosh said.
Study senior author Jay Stock said the results indicate “the rigorous manual labour of women was a crucial driver of early farming economies.”
“The research demonstrates what we can learn about the human past through better understanding of human variation today, ” he added.
If nothing else, the findings and conclusions should complicate the way we think of “women’s work” going back centuries. Since the dawning of day, mankind has had boulders to grind. Animals to wrangle. Big, heavy things to raising, and arm muscles to build. And some woman had do it.