GEHS 4020 – Ancient and Medieval Western Civilization
The significance of woman can be traced back to the beginning of humanity. They gathered plants, raised children, and may have started agriculture. The lives of Mesopotamian and Egyptian women were very different yet similar at the same time. One of the main differences between them was how they were viewed as equals with men, status in marriage. Although their similarities were in the sense of how they were associated with homemaking.
In most civilizations, including Mesopotamia, women’s equality was lesser than men’s. Men could own property, sell lands, act as political leaders, etc. However, these privileges did not apply to women. In Mesopotamia, their legal status was much lesser than men’s, as were their rights. The Mesopotamian women’s role was strictly defined. She was the daughter of her father or the wife of her husband. Women rarely acted as individuals outside the context of their families. Those who did so were usually royalty or the wives of men who had power and status. “Elite women contributed to the state and family lineages by producing heir, they also legitimated and bonded dynasties through marriage and cultic participations. Texts and images record elite women as patrons of architecture and monuments, of managers of personal estates, participants in public rituals, musicians, and priestesses of various ranks. Royal women could also serve as regents and in some cases appear to have imparted influence over the politics of their husbands and sons.” Gansell (2012)
Gansell also tells us that a bit less is known about the non-elite/non-royal women because less information was left of them, but it is known that their lives were not parallel to those of the elite woman, whose privileges were most likely politically motivated. (2012) What it is surely known is that most Mesopotamian girls were trained from childhood for the roles of wife,...