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Gendered Logistic Mobility Among the Earliest Farmers in the Sonoran Desert

  • James T. Watson (a1) and Marijke Stoll (a2)


Archaeological evidence suggests that early farmers in the Sonoran Desert practiced a mixed subsistence strategy that likely involved logistical foraging by a segment of the population to supplement agricultural investments on the floodplains. Patterned differences in labor investments in archaeological populations can often be extrapolated by comparing cross-sectional geometry in long bones, which can vary as a result of repetitive behaviors. We compare cross-sectional geometry (dimensions) of the femur between site location, archaeological phase, and by sex (males vs. females) in a series of skeletal samples from the Early Agricultural period (2100 B.C.—A.D. 50) to test the hypothesis that males exhibit greater anterior-posterior dimensions of the femur midshaft compared to females. We found that the cross-sectional geometry of the femur is significantly different between the sexes, indicating that males participated in foraging forays more frequently than females, and we suggest that these early farmers employed a gendered logistic mobility strategy. These differences reflect a continued investment in foraged resources (subsistence and materials) during the Early Agricultural period in the Sonoran Desert and have important implications for the division of labor and the construction of gender roles among these communities.

La evidencia arqueológica indica que las comunidades agrícolas tempranas en el desierto Sonorense practicaban una estrategia de subsistencia mixta que probablemente involucró una inversión en la recolección de alimentos por un segmento de la población como un complemento de la inversión agrícola. Con la geometría de la sección transversal de los huesos largos es posible extrapolar diferencias en las actividades laborales debido a que ésta puede variar como resultado de conductas repetitivas. Aquí comparamos la geometría de fémures entre la ubicación de sitios, fases arqueológicas y sexos en muestras esqueléticas correspondientes al periodo de Agricultura Temprana (2100 a.C—50 d.C.) para poner a prueba la hipótesis de que los hombres presentan dimensiones mas elípticas que las mujeres. Los resultados muestran diferencias significativas entre las dimensiones de fémures por sexo indicando que los hombres se enfocaron con mayor frecuencia a la recolección de alimentos en comparación con las mujeres, lo cual sugiere que estas comunidades agrícolas tempranas emplearon una estrategia de movilidad logística de acuerdo al género. Las diferencias reflejan una inversión continua en la recolección de recursos (materiales y de subsistencia) durante el periodo de Agricultura Temprana en el desierto sonorense y tienen implicaciones importantes para la división del trabajo y la construcción de los roles de género en estas comunidades.



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Gendered Logistic Mobility Among the Earliest Farmers in the Sonoran Desert

  • James T. Watson (a1) and Marijke Stoll (a2)


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