Goddesses of the hunt, the moon, child birth and the underworld

Top Image : Diana Huntress and her Nymphs (1637) by Peter Paul Rubens

"Man the Hunter," an early 20h-century human origins story, saw hunting as the primary driver of human evolution, emphasizing mankind’s forefathers' bipedalism, large brains, sharp tools, and insatiable desire for violence. According to this narrative, hunting also gave rise to the concept of the nuclear family, with women serving as those who waited at home for men to bring home the meat. However, through decades of field research, anthropologists have developed a more flexible and comprehensive view of human labor, which holds that neither men nor women are particularly biologically inclined to gather.

 Restoration of a Neanderthal woman cleaning a reindeer skin. Restoration of a Neanderthal woman cleaning a reindeer skin.

In 2018, archaeologists gathered around an excavated burial from 9,000 years ago in Peru's Andes Mountains. Along with a human adult's bones, they found an extensive kit of stone tools that an ancient hunter would require to take down big game, from engaging the hunt to preparing the hide, including a colorful array of 24 stone tools.  Large rocks for cracking bones or stripping hides; small, rounded stony bits for scraping fat from pelts; tiny flakes with extra sharp edges that could have chopped the meat; and red ocher nodules that could have helped preserve the hides of animal bones, including those of ancient llamas and deer, were also discovered.

Initially, the team assumed that this was the grave of a great hunter and a prominent member of society. Further investigation revealed that the remains discovered alongside the toolkit belonged to a biological female. Furthermore, it is unlikely that this ancient female hunter was an outlier as, when the individual cases were examined as part of a more extensive data set, they discovered that of the 27 burials of individuals with known gender buried with hunting tools, 11 of them were female while 16 were male. Following this discovery, a review of previously studied burials of similar age across the Americas revealed that 30 to 50 percent of big game hunters may have been biologically female.

The Goddess Berchta, Leader Of The Wild Hunts

The Wild Hunt is first mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles , one of the oldest sources of Anglo-Saxon history, in 1127 AD. The Wild Hunt is a folk myth in Central, Western, and Northern Europe, which depicts a ghostly leader with a band of hunters and hounds flying through the cold night sky with the howling wind.

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By Martini Fisher / Ancient Origins Writer

Martini Fisher comes from a family of history and culture buffs. She graduated from Macquarie University, Australia, with a degree in Ancient History. Although her interest in history is diverse, Martini is especially interested in  mythologies, folklores and ancient funerary practices.

Martini currently travels Asia with the purpose of collecting folklores and tales to simplify and present them for a global audience. Her first series of books, “Wayang: Stories of the Shadow Puppets,” is a look at the ancient stories of Javanese creation myths from a traditional performing arts standpoint. She also spent some time in Bali, Indonesia, compiling a little book of Balinese folk tales which she then released in e-book form titled “The Giant Who Loved the Moon: A Collection of Balinese Folk Tales”.

Spending most of her time in Asia and Australia, Martini started her contributions for another series of books, “Time Maps,” in 2008, continuing the work of Dr. R.K Fisher, who started the project in 1996 until the time of his passing. “Time Maps” retells the world history through a non-European point of view. “Time Maps: History, Prehistory and Biological Evolution” is available online and in bookstores.

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(Source: ancient-origins.net; September 28, 2022; https://tinyurl.com/5ak4kyyy)
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