Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Agaric Craft Clubs

Certain groups of women, only women, did tasks involving the use of string using their teeth and they started it at an early age.

Via the DailyMail.  "Gendered jobs date back to Bronze Age: Textile work was done exclusively by women in Spain 4,000 years ago, study of dental remains reveals"

Angel Rubio Salvador via DailyMail

We can assume because these tasks were done by certain women, the handicrafts were bartered rather than created for household use.  Lozano et al mention that many materials of the Argaric "Kingdom" do show evidence of craft specialization (to a level of full-time professionals in some cases).

It's unlikely the women were slaves of any sort.  The economics of slavery demand better use of of a slave's time.  Probably, groups of women specialized in different types of craft.

Argaric Culture was sophisticated enough, and here maybe urban enough, to imagine bazaars with stands of fruits, nuts, spices, dyes, ivories and whatever.  Wild-eyed people handling snakes, prostitutes doing their craft, skinny dogs going through trash. 

The authors mention this technique for making cordage is widespread and we might assume it was common in Western Europe.  Although the graphic shows an extreme example of wear, I believe most teeth required closer examination.  So what percentage of European women could show this kind of micro-wear?

We might assume that every man and women had their primary duties in life; as a farmer, warrior, parent and so on.  But it's quite possible that everyone had a collateral specialty.  Some women being experts on midwifery, others rugs or cordage, others specialty foods.  It might be possible to divide people into basic collateral duties in a lot of European communities.


Marina Lozano, Sylvia A. Jiménez-Brobeil, John C. Willman, Lydia P. Sánchez-Barba, Fernando Molina, Ángel Rubio,Argaric craftswomen: Sex-based division of labor in the Bronze Age southeastern Iberia, Journal of Archaeological Science, 2020, 105239, ISSN 0305-4403,


  1. It would be interesting to learn something the genetics of the weaver class of women. Would they have been of indigenous or Central European immigrant stock? They don't appear entirely mixed by that point.

    1. From what I read (and I can't remember, maybe this paper) this technique was in previous periods, so it has local continuity. I don't know if this method was beyond the area. Probably that isn't known, but I'd say this appears to be part of an ancient tradition here.

    2. The Olaide study demonstrates curious Iberian gender differences around this period.
      1. During Bell Beaker (before the Argaric), women with substantial Central European-like admixture arrive first and remain largely unadmixed with the indigenous Iberians.
      2. Around the start of the Argaric, men with less substantial Central European admixture arrive en masse. For the next 100-130 years, they do not change autosomally, and co-exist with the indigenous Iberians.
      3. This is followed by a period of heavy admixture. The non-R1b males disappear. The R1b males dominate, but become much more diverse genetically than the females, presumably due to continuing male migration. The female samples become admixed and uniform, suggesting that any female castes were determined more by the males they partnered than by their own ethnicity or ancestral heritage.