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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Prehistoric women had stronger arms than elite female rowing teams do today thanks to the daily grind of farming life, researchers have revealed, shedding light on their role in early communities.

The study of ancient bones suggests that manual agricultural work had a profound effect on the bodies of women living in central Europe between about the early neolithic and late iron age, from about 5,300BC to AD100.

"We think a lot of what we are seeing is the bone's response to women grinding grain, which is pretty much seated but using your arms really repetitively many hours a day," said Dr Alison Macintosh, co-author of the research from the University of Cambridge.

The study also reveals that the strength of women's arm bones dropped over time – probably as technology was developed to ease manual labour. By medieval times, the strength of women's arm bones was on a par with that of the average woman today.

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The results, published in the journal Science Advances, reveal that while the arm bones of women from the neolithic to the late iron age showed variations in strength, they were stronger than those of rowers, football players, and non-athletic women for their left arm, and the latter two groups for their right. Indeed, the neolithic women had arm bones about 30% stronger than non-athletic living women.

"We really saw them standing out through that first 5,500 years of farming, just really consistently stronger arm bones than the majority of the living women, including the rowers," said Macintosh. "Medieval women had much weaker arm bones than those previous prehistoric women; they looked a lot more like modern, recreationally active women."

The research builds on previous work by the team on male leg bones, which revealed a decline in strength since the late iron age. "Early farming men had these really strong leg bones – when you compared them to living men they were close to what you see in living runners, suggesting they were really active," said Macintosh. "Then [there is] this really progressive decline though time in bone strength, down to what you see in living sedentary undergraduate students at Cambridge."

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Neato stuff.
down to what you see in living sedentary undergraduate students at Cambridge."

Gave me a chuckle 😄.

#1 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2017-11-30 03:21 PM | Reply

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