Sexual Inequalities in the Early Neolithic? Exploring Relationships Between Sexes/Genders at the Cemetery of Vedrovice Using Use-Wear Analysis, Diet and Mobility

Abstract

This paper aims to address relations between sexes at the start of farming in Europe, particularly through studying the funerary practices of one of the most important North Carpathian Basin Neolithic cemeteries: the site of Vedrovice (Moravia, Czech Republic), considered to be the first Linearbandkeramik (LBK) cemetery documented to date. In order to approach the relationships between women, children and men at the dawn of agriculture, use-wear studies have been undertaken on both ground and flaked stone instruments deposited as grave goods, thus generating new data about the activities performed using these tools. Furthermore, the relationship between sex, age, health condition and spatial distribution has also been addressed together with the isotopic information related to diet and mobility. The results suggest that sexes were valued differently in death. Unequal farming and/or hunting product distribution between the sexes and between women of different origin has been observed as well as higher tool and ornaments accumulation in male burials and a marked sexual differentiation of the male and female spheres of production represented through the stone funerary tools. A discussion is made around the possible interpretation of this result in terms of presence/absence of sexual inequalities.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the Moravian Museum-Institute of Archaeology as well as the staff of the Rebešovice office for their kind collaboration. Furthermore, this work would not have been possible without the disinterested help of Dr. Gibaja, who provided his personal portable microscope, and Dr. Morell’s inestimable guidance with Oxcal management. Finally, we would like to warmly thank all the people who kindly agreed to revise the manuscript and whose advice and input have indeed improved the quality of this work.

Funding

This work has been funded through a Fyssen Foundation post-doctoral grant and the support of UMR 8215-Trajectoires de la Sédentarisation à l’État (CNRS – Université Paris 1).

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Correspondence to Alba Masclans Latorre.

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Masclans Latorre, A., Bickle, P. & Hamon, C. Sexual Inequalities in the Early Neolithic? Exploring Relationships Between Sexes/Genders at the Cemetery of Vedrovice Using Use-Wear Analysis, Diet and Mobility. J Archaeol Method Theory 28, 232–273 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10816-020-09453-y

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Keywords

  • Linearbandkeramik
  • Early Neolithic
  • Use-wear analysis
  • Gender
  • Sex
  • Funerary archaeology
  • Vedrovice