Funerary objects, such as stone tools, have revealed that Neolithic farmers had different professional activities for men and women.
Researchers at the University of York analyzed 400 stone objects found in graves in cemeteries across Europe and noted that there were differences in size, weight and raw material depending on whether the body was a man or a woman.
Archaeologists previously believed that polished stone tools from this period were used for woodworking, but analysis now shows a much wider range of tasks, with different activities for men and women.
Tools found in female graves were most likely used for working animal hides and skins, and tools intended for men were associated with hunting and potential conflict. The researchers concluded that the different roles of men and women were a crucial part of the transition to agriculture in human societies.
Dr Penny Bickle, Department of Archeology, University of York, said: “Gender roles, far from being a sign of the earliest gender inequalities, actually show how vibrant and vibrant agricultural societies were. how aware they were of the different skills of members of their community.
“The tasks assigned to women were hard manual labor and complemented the work of men as equal contributors to their community. Seeing these objects in the graves of men and women shows how much they were marked and valued for these jobs. . “
Evidence also showed that these roles would have varied depending on where the community came from. In the eastern regions, there is evidence to suggest that women moved more than men, and regardless of gender, shell ornaments and jewelry were worn in their graves. In the west, men moved more and had tools more associated with hunting than women.
Alba Masclans Latorre, postdoctoral researcher from Barcelona and head of the study, said: “The roles and contributions of women in these very early human societies are often downplayed; but here we show that they played an active role in the formation of the first farming communities.
“Their role was so important that these activities were chosen to mark them in death, but we see the same in men’s graves, suggesting that there were indeed specific gender roles, but all of these jobs were extremely important to the proper functioning of their society. “
The research, funded by the Fyssen Foundation, is published in the journal PLOS ONE.
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