Bioarchaeology And Gender

1439 Words 6 Pages
Bioarchaeology is unique in that it bridges biology and social science to create new theories and ask more meaningful questions. The art of bioarchaeology and why it is important is that it is a heavily question based field. It contextualizes all four fields of anthropology that can span into answering specific questions asked by researchers in archaeology, culture studies, and physical anthropology. The questions that bioarchaeologists seek to answer can range from demography, diet, identity, food-ways, and mortuary analysis. In general, the study of gender in anthropology is a relatively recent phenomenon that spans all subfields. Bioarchaeology has a unique position to study gender since the field of bioarchaeology can contextualize human …show more content…
Since gender is a social construct based on particular society 's expectations, it is difficult, but not impossible, to assign gender. Bioarchaeologists and other researchers can identify gender in numerous ways. First, researchers can analyze the morphology of bones to get a glimpse into the daily activities that left physical markers on the bones. Certain repeated movements over long periods of time can subtly or drastically create physical changes to the skeleton that can help bioarchaeologists identified the tasks certain individuals performed. For example, early agricultural societies differentiated tasks such as grinding foods and hunting. These different activities played an important role in the morphology of bones and the patterns of the morphology can lead researchers to deduce the occupational role that the individual completed during their life span (Rychlo, 2012). In addition, analysis by Molleson (1994) studied the morphological changes between males and females at the site of Abu Hureyra. In his analysis, he identified 44 females, 27 males, along with 16 indeterminate skeletons and compared the patterns of bone morphology according to their assigned sex. Molleson inferred that the patterning of females indicated long periods of grinding in a sitting position that was not present in the male skeletons. In his …show more content…
The biological analysis can even show males consuming more protein than females. The scientific analysis alone is not enough to satisfy the question. In order to fully understand the scientific results, the data must be contextualized and answer why protein and isotopes show up more prominently in one group over another. The data portrayed status and gender as important social components that are rewarded with access to important foods. A possible explanation for males consuming more protein than females could relate to preferential access for males, specific rituals, or the Spanish influence of gender roles (White 2005). These explanations cannot be completely confirmed, but they are good explanations based on scientific data and contextualizing the results from cultural analysis. White (2005) also suggests that the gender differences in food may be form daily activities that push men and women into different food systems. The gendered difference could be the result of simple proximity difference, or the difference could be enforced by societal standards. While it is likely that elite females displayed their status thorough different avenues, such as ritual and roles, the smaller consumption of essential maize suggests that females were lower status than the males. Unequal involvement in public rituals is suggested by White (2005) as a reason for the different performance of food consumption

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