At competitions our ancient ancestors would have easily won today’s world and Olympic champions. The transition from foraging to agriculture thousands of years ago brought the man to what he has now – obesity, osteoporosis and minimal physical activity.
According to the description of the research of Dr. Shaw published in Outside Magazine, scientists came to such conclusions after having studied the structure of skeletons of ancient people and have compared them with the bones of our contemporaries. According to Shaw, the state of the bones reflects muscle development and general physical condition of Homo Sapiens, both today and thousands of years ago.
Dr. Shaw’s colleague Alison Macintosh decided to compare the data of laser scanning of bones relating to the period from 5300 BC to 850 AD with the analysis of bone elasticity in students from Cambridge, who did jogging. The results were almost identical: the ancient male farmers were only slightly inferior to modern runners.
According to Macintosh, who recently published a paper titled “From athletes to couch potatoes: humans through 6,000 years of farming“, humans lost their physical skills when they switched from hunting and gathering to cultivation of crops and livestock. Male and female labor divided, general motor activity decreased, and, as a result, physical stamina began to drop with each generation. These changes affected mostly men as they ceased to run long distances and carry heavy prey on their shoulders. Daily exercise became much easier.
A correlation between the volume and weight of human bones was first found by Soviet anthropologist George Debetz in 1964. It turned out that if you add up the three volumes of limb bones – the tibia, femur and humerus – you will get a value of which it is mathematically easy to calculate the average weight of this group of people. The scientist came to this conclusion after having collected and processed the data on the peoples inhabiting different corners of the globe, from the Mesolithic time and to the Middle Ages.
In total Debetz made calculations for 2855 individuals, including the inhbitants of Karelia and Siberia of Russia, Pamirs (Central Asia), Moravia (Central Europe), Greece, Denmark, Norway, and Africa. It turns out that, regarding the physical condition, people who inhabited the Altai of modern Russia in the Bronze Age were close to modern weightlifters, while the Neolithic inhabitants of the Dnieper region – to athletes. At the same time, the body structure of the ancient humans who lived in the Baikal region (Russia) and Greece in the Neolithic period was much closer to the one of modern humans.