John Blong

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Washington State U.

Grant number

Gr. 10195

Approve Date

October 7, 2021

Project Title

Blong, John (Washington State U.) "Assessing sexual division of labor in the terminal Pleistocene and early HoloceneGreat Basin through steroid analysis of human coprolites"

The archaeological record of the terminal Pleistocene and early Holocene Great Basin suggests that hunter-gatherers consumed a diverse diet including many food items with low energetic return for time invested in harvesting. Paleoecological and archaeological data suggest that large-bodied mammals were readily available in Great Basin wetlands. The diet breadth model predicts a narrow diet focused on large mammals. Why, then, do we see low-return resources in early Great Basin diets? One explanation is that low-return resources reflect different foraging goals by men and women. However, we often can’t link dietary data with biological sex in the archaeological record. The proposed study will address this through analysis of sex steroids and dietary data in human coprolites the Paisley Caves, Oregon. The primary goal of this research is to assess sex differences in dietary intake and compare this data to sexual division of labor subsistence models. This study will focus on identifying the role of sex in prehistoric dietary choices, using a novel approach that counters androcentric biases in archaeology. This research will address theoretical debates on sexual division of labor and will provide insight into how human diets responded to climatic shifts in the past.