New Research Challenges Belief That Men Were Early Big-Game Hunters: It Seems Women Did The Work

New research out of UC Davis is challenging the long-held belief that men were the early big-game hunters. The researchers now believe that women may have been the ones doing the hunting after all.

Randy Haas, assistant professor of anthropology and the lead author of the study, has stated, “An archaeological discovery and analysis of early burial practices overturns the long-held ‘man-the-hunter’ hypothesis. We believe that these findings are particularly timely in light of contemporary conversations surrounding gendered labor practices and inequality. Labor practices among recent hunter-gatherer societies are highly gendered, which might lead some to believe that sexist inequalities in things like pay or rank are somehow ‘natural.’ But it’s now clear that sexual division of labor was fundamentally different — likely more equitable — in our species’ deep hunter-gatherer past.”

The team began working on their archaeological dig at Wilamaya Patjxa in Peru back in 2018, and discovered that the area is a 9,000-year-old female hunter burial ground. They found that the ground contained “contained a hunting toolkit with projectile points and animal-processing tools,” and the group’s osteologist, James Watson of The University of Arizona, determined that the biological sex of the remains uncovered is female.

The team then wanted to find out if she was a one-off hunter or if there were more, and eventually identified 429 individuals from 107 sites after consulting late Pleistocene and early Holocene burials throughout North and South America. They concluded that 30 to 50 percent of the hunters in the populations were female.

The researchers explain more in the video below.

Footage provided by KOVR Sacramento.

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