I'm actually surprised there isn't already a History of Food thread. Who knows, it might still be lurking somewhere long forgotten.
Woman the Hunter: Ancient Andean Remains Challenge Old Ideas of Who Speared Big Game
(Science) When archaeologists discovered the bones of a 9000-year-old human in a burial pit high in the Andes, they were impressed by a tool kit of 20 stone projectile points and blades stacked neatly by the person’s side. All signs pointed to the discovery of a high-status hunter. “Everybody was talking about how this was a great chief, a big man,” says archaeologist Randy Haas of the University of California (UC), Davis.
Then, bioarchaeologist Jim Watson of the University of Arizona noted that the bones were slender and light. “I think your hunter might be female,” he told Haas.
Now, the researchers report that the burial was indeed that of a female, challenging the long-standing “man the hunter” hypothesis. Her existence led them to reexamine reports of other ancient burials in the Americas, and they found 10 additional women buried with projectile points who may also have been hunters. “The message [of the new finding] is that women have always been able to hunt and have in fact hunted,” says archaeologist Bonnie Pitblado of the University of Oklahoma, Norman, who was not part of the study.
The “man the hunter hypothesis,” which prevailed after an influential symposium in Chicago in 1966, held that during the course of human evolution, men hunted and women gathered—and they seldom switched those gender roles. Some researchers challenged the notion, and ancient female warriors have been found recently, but archaeological evidence of women hunting has been scant. And the idea that all hunters were male has been bolstered by studies of the few present-day groups of hunter gatherers, such as the Hadza of Tanzania and San of southern Africa. In those cultures, men hunt large animals and women gather tubers, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
Robert Kelly of the University of Wyoming applauds the discovery of the female hunter but isn’t convinced by many of the other potential cases. He points out that having tools in the same grave as a person doesn’t always mean they used them in life. Two burials were female infants found with hunting implements, for example. Buried tools could also have been offerings from male hunters to express their sorrow, he says.
An artist’s depiction of a female hunter 9000 years ago in the Andean highlands of Peru
MATTHEW VERDOLIVO/UC DAVIS IET ACADEMIC TECHNOLOGY SERVICES
1: Of course, the ancient woman hunter is wearing a pink pelt.
But more importantly 2: The issue here is that we tend to reduce these things down to an all-or-nothing statement. That either men hunted and women gathered or that men and women hunted and gathered, perhaps even equally.
Virtually no modern hunter-gatherers have a predominantly female-led hunting culture, though one could argue that perhaps it's just that times and conditions have changed and that there are far fewer hunter-gatherers than ever.
See, what I think is more likely is that there is and have always been four major gender expressions among humans— masculine male, feminine male, masculine female, and feminine female, with all the rest being peripheral at best. In our ideal binary view of things, we only recognize masculine males and feminine females as representatives of their sex and try desperately to force feminine males and masculine females into their preassigned roles. This never works: there's been gay & effeminate men and Butch/warrioress women as far back as the Sumerians just in terms of pure history, let alone prehistory. When it comes to women, due to them being weaker and smaller than men on average, we outright presume that they have no physical force or aggressive will on principle. Whenever they do, it's always seen as inferior to the male spirit at best and an aberration to be corrected more usually. This also scrubs away any exceptions— that there might be exceptional women of a masculine gender orientation who are just as fueled by a violent warrior spirit, seek to hunt, and prove themselves to at least some baseline on par with men. In terms of societal ideals, these are not valued at all, but statistics say we'll see these types sooner or later. Given the length of human history and the number of humans to have gone before us, it seems silly to say that's not what these instances are.