International Desk: Grinding grain for hours a day gave prehistoric women stronger arms than today's elite female rowers, a study suggests.
The discovery points to a ''hidden history'' of gruelling manual labour performed by women over millennia, say University of Cambridge researchers.
The physical demands on prehistoric women may have been underestimated in the past, the study shows.
In fact, women's work was a crucial driver of early farming economies.
"This is the first study to actually compare prehistoric female bones to those of living women," said lead researcher, Dr Alison Macintosh.
"By interpreting women's bones in a female-specific context we can start to see how intensive, variable and laborious their behaviours were, hinting at a hidden history of women's work over thousands of years."The researchers used a CT scanner to analyse the arm (humerus) and leg (tibia) bones of modern women: from runners, rowers and footballers to those with more sedentary lifestyles.
The rowers belonged to the Women's Boat Club at Cambridge, and won last year's Boat Race. These elite modern athletes clocked up more than 100 km a week on the river.
The bones strengths of athletes were compared to those of women from early Neolithic agricultural eras through to farming communities of the Middle Ages.
risingbd/Nov 30, 2017/Mukul