Strong-armed women helped power Europe’s ancient farming revolution | Science News

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Strong-armed women helped power Europe’s ancient farming revolution

Bone studies show that a low-tech agricultural life sculpted powerful arms that female rowers today would envy

2:00pm, November 29, 2017
female rowers

FARM ARMS  Central European women who lived in early farming villages generally had stronger arms than women today, including these University of Cambridge semi-elite rowers, researchers say.

Ancient farm women in Central Europe labored so vigorously at grinding grain, tilling soil and other daily tasks that the women’s average upper-arm strength surpassed that of top female rowers today, a new study finds.

In the early stages of farming more than 7,000 years ago, women engaged in a wide array of physically intense activities that were crucial to village life but have gone largely unnoticed by scientists, conclude biological anthropologist Alison Macintosh of the University of Cambridge and colleagues.

“Women’s labor provided the driving force behind the expansion of agricultural economies in the past,” Macintosh says.

Previous investigations underestimated the intensity of ancient farm women’s manual labor, the researchers contend online November 29 in Science Advances. Those studies compared women’s bones with those of male contemporaries

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