November 4, 2020
Pre-Historical Badass? 9,000-Year-Old Female Big-Game Hunter Found in Andes
Very interesting news out of Peru this week, as archaeologists uncovered the remains of a big-game hunter who died roughly 9,000 years ago in the Andes. The body was at rest at about 13,000 feet in elevation. As researchers dug, they kept discovering projective points and other tools, then an associated skeleton emerged from the soil. More digging, more points and hunting tools, clearly belonging to the body.
It wasn’t until later analysis of the bones revealed the surprise: The hunter was a teenaged girl.
Contemporary and recent hunter-gatherer societies typically see a massive division in labor, with men the hunting and women the gathering. Researchers have long assumed that pattern has existed since the dawn of humankind.
Dr. Randy Haas, of UC Davis, and colleagues argue in a recent paper that the woman is evidence, along with the remains of several hundred other bodies from hunters in the Americas from roughly the Clovis period (somewhere around 14,000 years ago), to 8,000 years ago, that were analyzed for gender show that there may have been more women hunters than we ever thought, complicating gender roles in the peopling of the Americas.
Even if this hunter was an outlier, a 17-year-old woman, hunting big mammals 13,000 feet up a mountain, is not what many people, archaeologists included, think of when they imagine a pre-historic hunter.
You can read the full paper, here.
Top photo: Vicuña, game species native to the Andes, surveys a domain free of teenage hunters. Photo: Wikipedia