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Sexual Revolutions Gender and Labor at the Dawn of Agriculture by Jane Peterson

Sexual Revolutions Gender and Labor at the Dawn of Agriculture

Part of the Gender and Archaeology Series


Sexual Revolutions Gender and Labor at the Dawn of Agriculture by Jane Peterson

The change from a hunting-gathering lifestyle to one dependent upon farming constitutes a truly 'revolutionary' event in the human career. Most archaeologists agree that how ancient people organized their work and family groups was crucial to the success of early attempts at farming. Yet little serious attention has been paid to the social organization of labor in the prehistoric past. This book addresses that lacuna by investigating sexual divisions of labor. As a case study, Peterson chose the southern Levant of West Asia, where the world's first farming societies emerged some 10,000 years ago. Shattering long held assumptions about women's work that lead to generalizations about gender roles, Peterson shows that gender studies can be both scientific and thoroughly grounded in feminist theory.


Jane Peterson's new book provides a fresh and provocative look at the dynamic nature of gender-related roles and subsistence changes in the Levant. Her work melds archaeological data with the exciting new field of habitual activity analysis, supplying the reader with a thought-provoking contribution to both bioarchaeology and gender issues. -- Diane E. Hawkey, (Arizona State University) 'Woman's work?
All too often archaeologists and anthropologists bring their cultural baggage with them into the field and laboratory, subconsciously applying gender stereotypes to the problems they are trying to solve. Going beyond the standard rubric of

'putting flesh back on the bones,'
Jane Peterson

's book puts real muscle into the examination of activity diversity in males and females based on markers of occupational stress that occur on excavated skeletons. Peterson's work presents a well-balanced appraisal of the current status of views of gender/sex labor roles based on archaeological sources, feminist archaeology, and anthropology. -- Gary Rollefson, (Whitman College) Sexual Revolutions is superb, and, indeed, important. It has considerable significance for both general questions about the archaeology of gender and for more particular concerns about Near Eastern prehistory. Peterson presents a stimulating synthesis of theory and osteological evidence concerning the role of women in the agricultural and urban 'revolutions'
of south

-west Asia, with the focus on the southern Levant. Antiquity In sum, this book, the fourth book in a series on Gender and Archaeology edited by Sarah Nelson, is a gem. It introduces new hard data and judicious interpretation into a subject too often dominated by unsubstantiated but fervently held's value as a textbook: both readable and scholarly, it is a wonderful demonstration of wha science is good for. In addition to her admirably clear prose, Peterson has selected good graphic and illustrative materials. American Antiquity This book is an important one that should be read by all scholars interested in issues of labor and social organization in the archaeological record. Written in a readable and accessible style, it is both a scholarly work and one that can be easily used as a case study in classes. Peterson's work points us in a direction that many other scholars may wish to pursue. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research Sexual Revolutions provides a perspective on gender and labor that is made possible only from the insight gained from the study of ancient skeletons. Anthropologists have long speculated on the role of women and men in labor, especially in relation to the transition from foraging to farming. Peterson's interesting and compelling study of skeletal markers of activity gives new perspective on the dawn of agriculture and its impact on the lives and lifestyles of women and men. This book is a must read for physical anthropologists, archaeologists, and others interested human behavior, gender, and labor in this key period of human evolution. -- Clark Spencer Larsen, (Department of Anthropology, Ohio State University) Peterson's substantive results are intriguing... This is an important piece of work not simply because of its substantive contribution. One of the primary contributions of this study is its skepticism... Peterson generally makes good and valid use of ethnographic analogy, especially when it comes to materialist generalizations. Reviews in Anthropology

About the Author

Jane Peterson is assistant professor of anthropology at Marquette University.

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Book Info

Publication date

18th September 2002


Jane Peterson

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AltaMira Press,U.S.


192 pages


Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography
Sociology: work & labour
Gender studies, gender groups
Prehistoric archaeology



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