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Bones of ComplexityBioarchaeological Case Studies of Social Organization and Skeletal Biology$
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Haagen D. Klaus, Amanda R. Harvey, and Mark N. Cohen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062235

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062235.001.0001

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A Bone to Pick

A Bone to Pick

Using Height Inequality to Test Competing Hypotheses about Political Power

Chapter:
(p.33) 2 A Bone to Pick
Source:
Bones of Complexity
Author(s):

Carles Boix

Frances Rosenbluth

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813062235.003.0002

The frameworks of modern economics demonstrate how stature and sexual dimorphism can be used to model inequality among human populations. The authors synthesize a wide range of data from archaeological and historic contexts to characterize stature variation during the Neolithic and the Industrial revolutions. First, they find that the shift from foraging to farming widely introduced inequalities significant enough to affect the distribution of health and stature and was fundamentally linked to the invention of coercive sociopolitical mechanisms. Second, a rise in sexual dimorphism that accompanies intensive agriculture and may often reflect both a society’s more efficient allocation of nutrition and a drop in female bargaining power related to increased sexual division of labor and gendered inequalities. Third, political structures deeply shape nutritional outcomes. As economists, they engage a literature and measures of inequality that are foreign to most archaeologists. Aside from the substance of their findings, this chapter represents a valuable cross-disciplinary contribution.

Keywords:   sexual dimorphism, stature variation, gendered inequalities

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