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If you’re a regular reader of We Hunted the Mammoth, you probably know the story behind the site’s ironic name — it came from a rant by a Men’s Rights activist type demanding that women show more gratitude toward men because of all the selfless things men have allegedly done for women in history.
“Men gave you this modern world now you take it for granted,” he declared, “we hunted the mammoth to feed you … .”
You hunted the mammoth, eh? Not so fast. Turns out as many as half of all prehistoric mammoth-hunters were, you guessed it, cave women. According to science. Or at least to National Geographic, in a piece posted today:
Randall Haas, an archaeologist at University of California, Davis, recalls the moment in 2018 when his team of researchers gathered around the excavated burial of an individual lain to rest in the Andes Mountains of Peru some 9,000 years ago. Along with the bones of what appeared to be a human adult was an impressive—and extensive—kit of stone tools an ancient hunter would need to take down big game, from engaging the hunt to preparing the hide.
“He must have been a really great hunter, a really important person in society”—Haas says that’s what he and his team were thinking at the time.
Oh, but there’s a little plot twist: turns out he was a she.
[F]urther analysis revealed a surprise: the remains found alongside the toolkit were from a biological female. What’s more, this ancient female hunter was likely not an anomaly, according to a study published today in Science Advances. The Haas team’s find was followed by a review of previously studied burials of similar age throughout the Americas— and it revealed that between 30 and 50 percent of big game hunters could have been biologically female.
(Or at least Assigned Female at Birth; as NatGeo notes,we don’t know their gender identities.)
As NatGeo goes on to explain:
This new study is the latest twist in a decades-long debate about gender roles among early hunter-gather societies. The common assumption was that prehistoric men hunted while women gathered and reared their young. But for decades, some scholars have argued that these “traditional” roles—documented by anthropologists studying hunter-gatherer groups across the globe since the 19th century—don’t necessarily stretch into our deep past.
While the new study provides a strong argument that the individual in Peru was a female who hunted, plenty of other evidence has long been lying in plain sight, says Pamela Geller, an archaeologist at the University of Miami who is not part of the study team.
“The data is there,” Geller says. “It’s just a matter of how the researchers interpret it.”
So I guess the anonymous ranter who inadvertently provided this blog with a name has some apologies to make now that we know women hunted the mammoth too.