August 03, 2009

Strong men and tender women in Bronze Age Serbia

Journal of Anthropological Archaeology doi:10.1016/j.jaa.2009.06.001

Physical activity and social status in Early Bronze Age society: The Mokrin necropolis

Marko Porčić and Sofija Stefanović


This paper investigates the social structure of an Early Bronze Age society whose members were buried at the necropolis of Mokrin (Serbia, Southeastern Europe), by comparative analysis of musculo-skeletal markers (MSM) of activity and social status as induced on the basis of grave contents. The main objective of the analysis is to determine whether quantitative and qualitative differences in activity are related to social status. Besides using an overall measure of activity, we attempted to isolate different qualitative aspects (facets) of activity through factor analysis of MSM scores. No correlation between social status and overall labor intensity was found. However, there are clues that social status and a single facet of activity are related. Positive correlation between vertical status and the intensity of use of upper arm and shoulder muscles was found among male individuals, while negative correlation between the aforementioned variables was found among the females. The general conclusion based on the results of this study is that there is no simple correlation between the overall labor intensity and social status.


1 comment:

Maju said...

So you mean "strong men and tender women" among the elite but nothing of that among the common people, who surely made up the bulk of the population.

I think we can safely understand that Bronze Age somehow anticipates Antiquity and the Middle Ages in many aspects. Probably it was not too different from Mycenaean Greece. So guess that somehow the same ideals of femininity and masculinity, specially valid for the aristocrats, existed already in that time.

I understand that the upper arm and shoulder strenght of aristocrat males is probably related not so much to physical labor but to exercising and warrior training. Not sure if this is adressed in the paper but sounds like it must be that.