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Keywords:

  • musculoskeletal stress markers;
  • Natufian hunter-gatherer populations;
  • Neolithic farmers;
  • upper limb

Abstract

This paper attempts to quantify the changes in activity patterns of early farming populations in the Levant through the musculoskeletal stress markers (MSM) of the upper limb as seen in skeletal remains. The transition to an agricultural way of life resulted in higher loads on the upper limb in Neolithic populations compared to the Natufian hunter-gatherer populations that preceded them. The MSM pattern for males and females indicates a gender-based division of labor both in the Natufian and the Neolithic. It may also suggest that people in the Neolithic period were engaged in different (new) activities and occupations compared to the Natufian. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.