I am currently reading Our Oriental Heritage by William Durant.
In Chapter IV. The Family, Durant writes of woman:
In the hunting stage she did almost all the work except the actual capture of the game. In return for exposing himself to the hardships and risks of the chase, the male rested magnificently for the greater part of the year. The woman bore her children abundantly, reared them, kept the hut or home in repair, gathered food in woods and fields, cooked, cleaned and made the clothing and the boots.
Here he refers Müller-Lyer's Family as a resource which I do not have at hand. He then adds:
Because the men, when the tribe moved, had to be ready at any moment to fight off attack, they carried nothing but their weapons; the women carried all the rest.
It was that latter part that struck me as odd and brought me to thinking. How can we know that? If I am indeed being ambushed, and I carry a spear and, say, a bowl of fruits, I can just drop the bowl and defend myself.
I remember that I was taught in school that in "The Hunting Stage", women did domestic work and men hunted and I accepted it without skepticism. Durant himself states that, in early days of human history, the physical difference in strength and endurance between the sexes was perhaps more or less neglectable but I can accept that men might have a more natural inclination for gruesome work (and a greater innate aversion to domestic work)
But Durant describes the customs of these early days in great detail. How can we know for a fact that women carried most things? How can we know, even, that women played no part in hunting or fighting? If I look at early cave paintings, I, being no expert, would not dare to state for a fact that absolutely no women are depicted here.