When someone tells you to think of women of the past, what do you imagine? Frail fair maidens in pretty dresses picking flowers? Well not so fast! The women of prehistoric times were fierce! They would have put the Olympians of today to shame, and science proves it.

Bio-archaeologists at Cambridge University have done the unthinkable by comparing old female bones to the bones of female athletes today. According to the results, the women of the past are actually much stronger than female athletes today. They were even stronger than the women in the Cambridge University rowing team. Since the bone is a living tissue that can be tested to see how strong it is by judging the physical impact and strain on it, archaeologists thought it would be best to compare the bones with today’s women’s bones to determine their strength. Although the women from the Neolithic era (about 7,400 to 7,000 years ago) have about the same leg-bone strength as the rowers from Cambridge University, their arm bones are almost 11-16% stronger than the athletes. The women of the Bronze Age (about 4,300 to 3,500 years ago) had about 9%-13% stronger arm bones but 12% weaker leg bones.

Here’s an interesting slide show we came across on Slideshare, which further expands on the lifestyle of Neolithic women:

Researchers believe that the reason why women of the past had much stronger arm strength and about the same leg strength is because at the time, they were in charge of manually planting fields, grinding grains, and harvesting crops using their hands. It’s a lot of heavy labor, which isn’t quite carried out nowadays. Considering the fact that women had many different tasks to do in the past, it is hard to determine exactly which task helped them most to develop strong and healthy bones. One thing for sure though is that all the tasks relate to repetitive physical labor. Although the women of the past were not generally thought to be athletic, turns out that they actually possessed the strength to defeat the female athletes of today.