Women´s tasks

Esparto grass objects

These peculiar esparto grass objects are the oldest evidence of work that was done with such material on the Iberian Peninsula. They were preserved for almost seven thousand years thanks to the extraordinary natural conditions found in the Bat Cave (Granada), which was used for collective burials. They include the remains of clothing, dresses and footwear, and of small, finely woven baskets that were used as personal items or as funerary objects for the bodies buried there. Twelve such bodies were laid out in a circle around a female corpse. This fact, from a symbolic standpoint, reflects the importance of an actual flesh and blood woman who was honored in this way and wore a golden headband.

Although this woman appears to have played an important role within her social group, it’s not clear what her actual occupations involved. The esparto grass objects in this tomb present us with an important question: who was in charge of maintaining and extending the useful life of these everyday objects and of keeping them in operating condition? We do not know whether men or women were the ones who did it. Historical documentation from earlier periods and ethnographic comparisons indicate that many such activities, essential for the survival of a community, were traditionally carried out by women.