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7 January 2021
Some tasks specialised according to gender almost 4,000 years ago

A study of the dental wear of 106 individuals buried in the Castellon Alto archaeological site around 140 kilometres northeast of Granada, Spain, found that only women used their front teeth as tools to make threads and cords.
     Between 2200 BCE and 1550 BCE the culture of El Argar developed in the south-eastern Iberian Peninsula. It is known that this was a complex society that practiced social differentiation based on gender, age, and specialisation in tasks such as ceramics, stone, textiles, and metals.
     A recent study by the Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES) and the University of Rovira i Virgili (URV), conducted in collaboration with the Anthropology Laboratory of the University of Granada, reveals that Bronze Age women were using their front teeth to perform certain tasks associated with making threads and cords as early as 1900 to 1600 BCE.
     The signs of wear include notches, chipped enamel, and grooves resulting from the manipulation of fibres of plant and animal origin. Only a small group of people were making threads, and those using their teeth were exclusively women of different ages - the older the individual, the more pronounced the wear - inferring that specialisation began in adolescence and continued throughout their lives.
     The study forms part of one of the research strands at the IPHES that aims to identify the use of teeth as tools.

Edited from PhysORG (3 November 2020)

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