Ancient women manipulated male behaviour to survive wars
We have gone through studies that focus on the problems warfare poses for men and how they shaped human male cognition. Now, a novel study based on traditional stories from across the world highlights how wars have affected women.
Washington: We have gone through studies that focus on the problems warfare poses for men and how they shaped human male cognition. Now, a novel study based on traditional stories from across the world highlights how wars have affected women.
According to researchers, ancestral women developed certain strategies to increase their odds of survival and their ability to manage their reproduction in the face of warfare.
"These included manipulating male behaviour, determining whether the enemy's intent was to kill or capture them, and using defensive and evasive tactics to sidestep being murdered or to escape captivity," said Michelle Scalise Sugiyama from the University of Oregon in the US.
Through the ages, women have suffered greatly because of wars.
"Consequently to protect themselves and their offspring, our female ancestors may have evolved survival strategies specific to problems posed by warfare," Sugiyama added.
She studied a sample of forager and forager-horticulturalist societies by looking at archaeological and ethnographic research on raiding.
This helped her to compile a list of five "fitness costs" - ways in which warfare impedes women's chances of surviving and reproducing.
These occur when a woman is killed, a woman is captured, her offspring is killed, a mate is killed or captured, or an adult male kinsman is killed or captured.
The study then reviewed traditional stories about raids that had been handed down for generations by word of mouth.
Sugiyama analysed a cross-cultural sample of war stories from 45 societies and found that the five "fitness costs" often feature within these story lines.
The war stories included tales from various North American Indian tribes, the Eskimos of the Arctic, Aborigine groups from Australia, the San of Southern Africa and certain South American tribal societies.
The findings were published in Springer's journal Human Nature.