Cross-sectional geometry in the humeri of foragers and farmers from the prehispanic American Southwest: exploring patterns in the sexual division of labor

American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Marsha D Ogilvie, Charles E Hilton


The work effort of prehistoric males relative to females has long been of interest to anthropologists, particularly in foraging versus farming groups. This knowledge requires a clear understanding of the sexual division of labor, or the dichotomy in subsistence roles allocated to males and females. Such research in the Prehispanic American Southwest has been limited. As previous work has shown that bone is the osseous template that reflects in vivo activity levels, it is possible to assess gender-based differences in past work effort using analyses of geometric properties of bone and calculations of bilateral asymmetry. Our research comparatively analyzed upper limb work effort by sex and subsistence in two skeletal samples from disparate economic groups, foragers and farmers, both from similar desert environments. The residentially mobile foragers are from the Lower Pecos region of southwest Texas and the farmers are from the aggregated pueblo of Pottery Mound in south central New Mexico. Humeri from 27 adult foragers (n = 11 males; n = 17 females) and 65 adult farmers (n = 38 males; n = 27 females) were selected for study. All humeri were radiographed and/or scanned and digitized. Statistical comparisons using two-way ANOVAs ...Continue Reading


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