This paper concentrates on women of the Iberian Meseta. Like many burials of this age, a closer look is revealing some deviance from the mainstream assumptions. The authors lament the hyper-focus on this culture's men (not completely unwarranted), and it is true that the social changes of the household are the most trans-formative element of this era.
Most of the women discussed in this paper died in their twenties. Two of the women appear to have been beheaded, one had an obviously altered skull, one a headdress and a couple with guns.
|"Girls with Guns - and Infants" Los Humanejos (UE 1166)|
However, these authors suggest that the initial sexing of many burials, historically, were based on the orientation of the graves. Just recently, a grave from Kněževes, Czech Republic, had a genetic determination of female when the grave had been previously assigned as male based on the male orientation and warrior gear. So we may begin to see more genetic studies attempting to determine the actual sex of the individual.
The twenty-something mothers and infants above were buried with daggers.
|Two Beheaded Girls from La Magdalena, 11 graves total (foto César Heras)|
These younger women appear to have been beheaded, victims of interpersonal and domestic violence with a long history.
|Beaker Mother and Infant, Camino de Yeseras (Foto a partir|
de Blasco et al. 2005: Fig. 7)
I've speculated before that this may be the most likely reason for the unnatural shape of many of the Bell Beaker heads. Some Beaker heads are not correctly proportional by natural dimension and like some Native Americans and Mongolians, being bound to a board throughout infancy may have in some cases flattened the growing infant head.
Interestingly, the authors note that aside from her flattened head, distinguishing her from nearby women buried without beaker pottery, that she also lacks the strong muscle ligaments of the other women. They suggest that her life was "easier" than the other women.
With regards to infant swaddling, this ancient Siberian practice (with the assumption that this was the case here) may be one more example of changes in the social structure and daily life occurring at this time.
hemolytic disease must have been stratospheric at this time due to the mescegenation of foreign and local peoples.
In the final analysis, the authors make the case that if the Iberian inventory of graves were reviewed given their understanding of the unreliability of gender-related items, that the number of female burials may actually double, in fact they suggest, surpass male burials! (I smell a large genetic study)
La mujer en el registro funerario campaniforme y su reconocimiento social. Women in the funerary Bell Beaker record and their social recognition. TRABAJOS DE PREHISTORIA. Corina Liesau, Concepción Blasco, Patricia Ríos, Raúl Flores, 72, N.º 1, enero-junio 2015, pp. 105-125, ISSN: 0082-5638. doi: 10.3989/tp.2015.12146
The paper analyzes the Bell Beaker graves with female burials from three sites located near one another in the region of Madrid. The study addresses the female presence within contexts that have traditionally been considered mainly male. The variability of their grave goods and burial rituals and their identification in primary and secondary, single or collective inhumations, is also analyzed. Their associations with male adult individuals and/or children are reviewed, and the social role of women buried with daggers in significant graves is discussed. Although the sample is quantitatively insufficient, its
variability at least allows us to refute previons claims about the numerical superiority of male graves that have been made without any empirical support. We conclude with a discussion of why there are fewer women in Bell Beaker tombs than in contemporaneous tombs without Bell Beakers.