Monday, December 17, 2007

Man Woman Hunter Gatherer

You know how it goes: In ancient societies, men were hunters, women were gatherers, and that simple notion has spawned all sorts of interpretations about gender roles.

But a new discovery in Jordan may cast doubt on traditional assumptions about gender separation. Archaeologist Philip Edwards found a tool bag that includes instruments of both the harvest (a sickle) and the hunt (spearheads, slingshot stones), according to an article in Discovery News.

(T)he bag's owner wasn't necessarily a man; women are thought to have been in charge of plant gathering. The tools, therefore, either belonged to a woman hunter-gatherer, or work activities were more gender-blind than thought during prehistoric times, Edwards theorized.
If some archaeologist finds my waterfowling backpack 16,000 years from now, she'll love the contents: gamestrap, shotshells, knife, baby wipes, tissues, green eye shadow (strictly for face camo), makeup remover (to remove face camo). Chicks know how to pack for maximum comfort!


Albert A Rasch said...

As an unreformed chauvinist, I tend to open doors, carry books, and try to never cuss in front of a woman.

But I will pick the Mrs anytime, for any gunfight, at spit in your eye distances. Reaction times are great, accuracy is uncanny.

Due to my superior physical strength, I get to clean up of course... I know what's good for me.

I would guess that back in paleolithic days, you didn't quibble too much over who rolled the stone door over at the end of the day. What mattered was if you were going to make it through the day.

I wonder if there are any recent cultures that have shown a different societal norm than what we are accustomed to?

Albert A Rasch

NorCal Cazadora said...

I'm wondering the same thing. We certainly know there are plenty of cultures in which women are not afraid to do the killing. Picture someone walking out into the yard, grabbing a chicken and swinging it around by the head until its neck snaps. Now, are you picturing a woman or a man? In my head, it's a woman. I little old Italian lady.

But ultimately, in a culture where you can't get the day's meal at a local supermarket, some division of labor makes sense. You can't be taking care of the hunting if you have to take care of the home. (And that, of course, is my justification for not cleaning house until duck season is over.)

Anonymous said...

Not to start a debate that may not end well, but I've always thought there was a difference between the respectful courtesies, such as Albert describes, and treating a woman as if she is less able.

I can change a tire, tote heavy boxes and (I would guess anyway) gut a deer if that was necessary. That doesn't mean I want to do any of those things. I never understood how courtesy came to be linked with thinking a woman was less capable.

I'm guessing, in socities that live on a basic survival level, both men and women must work to ensure that survival. They may have different tasks and different levels of knowledge, but both halves are essential for survival.

Albert A Rasch said...


I think that there are certain activities that are better suited to a man, as there are some more suited to a woman.

But, I venture to guess that on the crossing of the Great Plains, if you threw a wheel everyone got on the pry bar to lift the Conestoga up.

The pivotal point methinks was the Victorian era, with the rediscovery of "chivalry" by the masses. It was an easy leap from physically less able to, "less able."

It didn't help that popular culture of the day had feinting couches, petticoats, corsets, and those dresses with the big butt things in them. Oh and don't forget the big hats too.

Now having said all that, I personally don't want women fighting in wars as combatants. It just doesn't seem right to me. Isn't it enough that all the testosterone that gets us into these messes ends up spilled as blood on the streets?

I digress, and I don't want nor mean to insult or offend, please forgive me if I've done so.

I'll just keep on opening doors and challenging ill mannered louts to duels.

Albert A Rasch

NorCal Cazadora said...

Albert -

I may have to challenge you to a door-opening duel!

Having grown up in California, my mom just raised me to be polite - if you go through a door, hold it for the next person if he or she is close, or is carrying a lot of stuff, or is elderly or disabled.

When I tried this in Virginia, I would have lengthy standoffs with men who wouldn't walk through a door I held, as if perhaps their family jewels might fall off as soon as they crossed the threshold.

I suspect it would be the same with you and me!

Seriously, though, no offense taken, on any of your comments.

But, my friend, if my country is ever attacked, you can be assured that I will take up arms against the enemy. (Wolverines!)

Anonymous said...

The "big butt things" were called bustles, Albert.

I'm with Holly, if it came to defending my country or my family or my friends, I'd be right there fighting. Nice reference to "Red Dawn" by the way.

NorCal Cazadora said...


It's all settled: Kristine and I will both defend you if you are ever attacked.

Unless of course you're being attacked by feminists, in which case we might just laugh for a while before helping out!


Phillip said...

An interesting thing has come up recently as anthropologists are learning more about early man.

This is just a theory, and not MY theory, but here goes.

As you probably know, it's highly likely that neanderthal lived concurrently with homo sapiens. There are many theories as to why we survived and neanderthal did not.

Studies of artifacts and living patterns now suggest that while homo sapiens lived with a more "traditional" division of labor along gender lines, neanderthal women tended to participate in hunting and battle. As a result, the women experienced higher mortality, possibly dooming the species to extinction.

It makes sense, of course, since mammalian species need more females than males for survival. It provides a really interesting rationale for the evolution of gender roles.

Of course it doesn't mean much now... but it is an interesting thing to ponder. Maybe over a good pipe, eh Albert?

Albert A Rasch said...


It figures.

A guy just wants to do the right thing, and in the end he ends up being the punchline in a joke he doesn't understand.

Come to think about it, wouldn't be the first time I've been left hanging in the breeze with girlish peals of laughter wafting through the air. Damned if I know what was so funny...

I think I have another good essay coming up... Thanks Ladies! :)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

Glad we could help Albert.

We do what we can.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Merry Christmas, Albert! Can't wait to see what you write.