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Grave of 9,000-Year-old Skilled Huntress Found in the Peruvian Andes, Changing the Stereotype of “Man the Hunter”


When a tomb containing the remains of a 9,000-year-old person was discovered along with a 20-stone projectile point hunter’s tool kit and stone blades for cutting and scraping, archaeologists calculated that they had found a great chief: a revered hunter.

Matthew Verdolivo / UC Davis IET Academic Technology Services

However, bioarchaeologist Jim Watson of the University of Arizona informed discoverers working high up in the Peruvian Andes that, based on the dimensions of the bones, the “great man,” as they had been calling him, in she was actually a woman.

After the remains were proven to be female, the team, a mix of anthropologists and archaeologists from the universities of California and Arizona, re-examined other reports of burials that were assumed to have belonged to male hunters and found that 10 others had been incorrectly. registered as male.

An influential 1966 symposium in Chicago held that “the man the hunter” was separate in his Paleolithic duties from the women, who spent their time meeting.

Archaeological evidence of female hunters has been scant, and anthropological examinations of today’s hunter-gatherer groups, such as the Hadza of Tanzania or the San of Namibia, show that men hunt big game and women gather source food. vegetable.

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The team had not set out to study the gender dynamics of hunting in the prehistoric Andean world, but nevertheless the corresponding report on their discoveries included a meta-analysis of studies carried out in Andean tombs and determined that of those buried with hunting tools, 10 were women while 16 were men, suggesting that the hunt was “gender neutral”.

Women hunting through the ages

Considering that for thousands of years, there were only two main jobs to be done: hunting and gathering, it would seem incredible that there was never a blurring of gender responsibilities in acquiring food.

Many things may have caused a woman in Andean society to leave the basket and pick up the atlatl, such as a reduction in the number of hunting-age males in the society due to conflicts with other tribes, or males that died on hunting expeditions. .

In mythological pantheons around the world, it is not uncommon for the hunt to be in the domain of a goddess, such as Skaði, mentioned repeatedly in ancient Norse epic poetry, or Diana, the Hellenistic hunting deity also appropriated by the Romans .

In Egypt, there were female and male deities of hunting. Neith was a female goddess who is one of the oldest deities recorded in Egypt, when she was often revered for her hunting characteristics.

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Today, according to Chris Dorsey writing for Forbes, the fasting segment of the American population that hunts are women. Their findings suggest it has a lot to do with the desire to move away from factory farming and over-processed meat.

“I wanted to know what I was feeding my family,” a South Carolina hunter told Forbes. “Wild game does not contain hormones, steroids or antibiotics, the healthiest meat you can eat.”

“Women have always been able to hunt and have in fact hunted,” said archaeologist Bonnie Pitblado of the University of Oklahoma, Norman, said Science Magazine reporting on the discovery in the Andes. “These women lived high up in the Andes at 13,000 feet full time; if you can do that, you can surely take down a deer. “

Why do women hunt by KJ Houtman contains the interviews of 18 women who hunt and explores their connections with the ancient Andean woman in the tomb and with a primordial activity that continues in her endeavor.

“For some,” Houtman writes, “it is a sense of independence that comes from possessing the skills to hunt, the ability to provide food without having to depend on others.”

One study found that in all 50 states, six Canadian provinces, and 13 European countries, the hunting demographics are about 8% female, but National Geographic details that the percentage of women hunting in the United States has increased by 25% between 2006-2011, and that hunting workshops for women across the country tend to be solidly booked months in advance.

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Whether it’s to provide the best quality food for yourself or your family, to spend long periods outdoors with all the exciting and unexpected things that happen in nature, or to demonstrate or possess something ancient and difficult to describe, the Huntress Modern is living testimony that the ancient hunter is still present in our communities.

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