The Invisibility of Violent Women

Author(s): Maryann Calleja

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Women of Violence: Warriors, Aggressors, and Perpetrators of Violence" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

We are all capable of violence. Violence utilized by men is rarely—if ever—questioned, but for women it is presumed a tool employed only by exception. Individuals and groups of both sexes have used violence to many ends. Though sex may influence the context and mode of employment, the capacity for violence is unaffected. Whether through direct, cultural, or structural violence, as individuals or in large-scale conflict, women can and have used violence to their advantage. They have fought on battlefields, perpetuated matriarchies, resisted authority, and maintained social order through the use or threat of violence.

Still, an inflated disparity between violent men and women exists in the archaeological record. To minimize this imbalance, research on violence must consider much more than just skeletal trauma. A biocultural approach can integrate archaeological context with evidence of biological stress to examine the social or cultural origins of indirect violence. Researchers must also account for sociocultural limitations that may have reduced the open expression of violence by women, thereby obscuring archaeological evidence of such behavior. Additionally, the paucity of published alternative interpretations and tendency of adherence to more conventional analyses have nearly rendered the violent women of the past invisible.

Cite this Record

The Invisibility of Violent Women. Maryann Calleja. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 452193)

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 23818