Women's Roles in Ancient Civilizations: A Reference Guide

Women's Roles in Ancient Civilizations: A Reference Guide

Women's Roles in Ancient Civilizations: A Reference Guide

Women's Roles in Ancient Civilizations: A Reference Guide


Knowledge about the roles of women in ancient civilizations has been limited to traditionally held notions, but recent discoveries and research have led to exciting insights into the great variety of ways in which women contributed to ancient cultures. This reference work, designed for student research, features lengthy essays and a wealth of new information about women's roles in twelve ancient civilizations around the world--China, India, Japan, Mesopotamia, the Levant, Egypt, West Africa, Greece, Rome, the Maya, the Inca, and Native North America.


This book examines women in twelve ancient civilizations. Women in these cultures played a variety of roles: mother, artist, agriculturalist, nurse, healer, midwife, judge, priestess, weaver, queen, leader, prostitute, merchant, laborer, warrior, holy woman, and more. The range and similarity of the roles presented here provide a solid foundation for comparing women's roles across several cultures. Individually and collectively, the chapters in this volume provide stimulating new views of women in ancient civilizations worldwide. They challenge many traditionally held notions about women's capabilities and achievements in those societies and suggest new ways of perceiving and understanding them. Among the issues this book examines are how women have fulfilled their roles and how they have been regarded by their society. The reader can compare notions of women's beauty and sexuality; reasoning and creative abilities; religious roles; and public, political leadership abilities.

Regardless of their social and political status and their individual culture's values, women everywhere have led active lives. They have worked to bear and raise children; to produce food and contribute to the household and social economy; to participate in the decision making of their society; and to be major practitioners of spiritual rites. The contributions of women to ancient civilizations continue to have an impact on women's lives today.


It is important to understand several concepts used throughout these chapters. First is that of taking a gynocentric--that is, a woman-centered . . .

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