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Bühler, B, Kirchengast, S., 2022. Horse-riding as a habitual activity among the early medieval Avar population of the cemetery of Csokorgasse (Vienna): Sex and chronological differences. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology
Little is known about sex and gender differences in the daily life activities of early medieval Avar populations. Of particular interest is habitual horse-riding, which is assumed to be typical for these populations. Importantly, fundamental changes in the “Avar lifestyle” occurred over time and this may have led to less horse-riding. This study identifies possible sex and chronological differences in the prevalence of metric and nonmetric traits indicating habitual horse-riding within the adult population of the Avar cemetery Wien11-Csokorgasse in Austria. A total of 149 skeletons from this cemetery (ca. 625–800 AD) were analyzed. Poirier’s facets, plaque, and cribriform changes of the femur-neck junction were documented, and the index of ovalization (IOA) of the acetabulum was calculated. Males surpassed females significantly in the prevalence of Poirier’s facets of the right (p = 0.011) and the left femur (p = 0.048) and showed significantly higher IOAs of the right (p = 0.019) and the left (p = 0.037) acetabulum. Among males, no chronological differences in the appearance of nonmetric traits and the IOA were detected. In contrast, females showed a significantly higher IOA during the earliest phases of this burial ground (Early Avar period 2/Middle Avar period 1; 625–675 AD), indicating a chronological decline of habitual horse-riding. Horse-riding was a typical male activity. Our results, however, suggest that a particular segment of women practiced horse-riding habitually. From the early to the middle phase of the studied Avar cemetery, its prevalence declined in females, pointing to changes in female daily life activities.