National Geographic features Dr. Alison Murray's research
From hard, physical work, women in early farming societies grew strong. The proof is in their bones. A research team led by Alison Macintosh of the University of Cambridge compared ancient female skeletons with bones of modern women athletes, including members of this rowing team. One finding: ordinary women living around 5,000 BC had even stronger arms than the modern athletes. Previous studies compared bones of ancient women with men from the same era. That led to an underestimate for the women's muscle strength. Life in early agrarian societies included lots of upper body exercise. Grinding grain into flour took enormous effort, with an effect on the arms similar to rowing. Such clues from ancient women's bones can teach us about their labor, and their lives.
Read more about Alison's extraordinary work with these female populations in this natgeo article
Members of the Cambridge University Women's Boat Club Openweight crew
Why prehistoric women had super-strong bones, video from National Geographic