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Study: Prehistoric Women Were Way Stronger Than Modern-Day Female Rowers

CARY, NORTH CAROLINA - APR 23: UNC woman get rowing workout on Jordan Lake on 23 Apr 2015 at Lake Jordan Shutterstock/ Harry PowellCARY, NORTH CAROLINA - APR 23: UNC woman get rowing workout on Jordan Lake on 23 Apr 2015 at Lake Jordan Shutterstock/ Harry Powell

A study published by the University of Cambridge Wednesday shows that prehistoric women were way stronger than modern-day rowers.

A study published in Science Daily found that prehistoric women had stronger bodies by comparing bones of Central European women during the first 6,000 years of farming to modern-day female rowers. The researchers found that these women had stronger upper arms than female rowing champions, according to research from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Archaeology.

“This is the first study to actually compare prehistoric female bones to those of living women,” said Dr. Alison Macintosh, lead author of the study. The researchers believe that such intensive demands of manual labor made these women have much stronger upper bodies.

Researchers scanned the limb bones of Cambridge rowing squad to compare to female bones from the Neolithic Ages to the Middle Ages. The Neolithic Age (7400-7000 years ago) showed that their arm bones were 11-16% stronger than the rowers and 30% stronger for Cambridge students.

Macintosh believes that one explanation is the sheer stress of manual labor placed on women.”Prior to the invention of the plough, subsistence farming involved manually planting, tilling and harvesting all crops,” said Macintosh. “Women were also likely to have been fetching food and water for domestic livestock, processing milk and meat, and converting hides and wool into textiles.

Grain also had a large impact on women’s bones throughout history. Women would spend approximately five hours per day grinding grain to make flour in the early agricultural period of the Neolithic era.

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