This notion is reflected in Egyptian art and historical inscriptions.
Print this page Sexual equality In order to understand their relatively enlightened attitudes toward sexual equality, it is important to realise that the Egyptians viewed their universe as a complete duality of male and female.
Giving balance and order to all things was the female deity Maat, symbol of cosmic harmony by whose rules the pharaoh must govern. The Egyptians recognised female violence in all its forms, their queens even portrayed crushing their enemies, executing prisoners or firing arrows at male opponents as well as the non-royal women who stab and overpower invading soldiers.
Although such scenes are often disregarded as illustrating 'fictional' or ritual events, the literary and archaeological evidence is less easy to dismiss.
Royal women undertake military campaigns whilst others are decorated for their active role in conflict. Women were regarded as sufficiently threatening to be listed as 'enemies of the state', and female graves containing weapons are found throughout the three millennia of Egyptian history.
Although by no means a race of Amazons, their ability to exercise varying degrees of power and self-determination was most unusual in the ancient world, which set such great store by male prowess, as if acknowledging the same in women would make them less able to fulfil their expected roles as wife and mother.
Indeed, neighbouring countries were clearly shocked by the relative freedom of Egyptian women and, describing how they 'attended market and took part in trading whereas men sat and home and did the weaving', the Greek historian Herodotus believed the Egyptians 'have reversed the ordinary practices of mankind'.
And women are indeed portrayed in a very public way alongside men at every level of society, from co-ordinating ritual events to undertaking manual work. One woman steering a cargo ship even reprimands the man who brings her a meal with the words, 'Don't obstruct my face while I am putting to shore' the ancient version of that familiar conversation 'get out of my way whilst I'm doing something important'.
Egyptian women also enjoyed a surprising degree of financial independence, with surviving accounts and contracts showing that women received the same pay rations as men for undertaking the same job - something the UK has yet to achieve. As well as the royal women who controlled the treasury and owned their own estates and workshops, non-royal women as independent citizens could also own their own property, buy and sell it, make wills and even choose which of their children would inherit.
Yet freed from the necessity of producing large numbers of offspring as an extra source of labour, wealthier women also had alternative 'career choices'.
After being bathed, depilated and doused in sweet heavy perfumes, queens and commoners alike are portrayed sitting patiently before their hairdressers, although it is equally clear that wigmakers enjoyed a brisk trade.
The wealthy also employed manicurists and even female make-up artists, whose title translates literally as 'painter of her mouth'. Yet the most familiar form of cosmetic, also worn by men, was the black eye paint which reduced the glare of the sun, repelled flies and looked rather good.
Dressing in whatever style of linen garment was fashionable, from the tight-fitting dresses of the Old Kingdom c. Finishing touches were added with various items of jewellery, from headbands, wig ornaments, earrings, chokers and necklaces to armlets, bracelets, rings, belts and anklets made of gold, semi-precious stones and glazed beads.
With the wealthy 'lady of the house' swathed in fine linen, bedecked in all manner of jewellery, her face boldly painted and wearing hair which more than likely used to belong to someone else, both male and female servants tended to her daily needs.
They also looked after her children, did the cleaning and prepared the food, although interestingly the laundry was generally done by men.
Freed from such mundane tasks herself, the woman could enjoy all manner of relaxation, listening to music, eating good food and drinking fine wine. One female party-goer even asked for 'eighteen cups of wine for my insides are as dry as straw'. Women are also portrayed with their pets, playing board games, strolling in carefully tended gardens or touring their estates.
Often travelling by river, shorter journeys were also made by carrying-chair or, for greater speed, women are even shown driving their own chariots. Although the vast majority of such officials were men, women did sometimes hold high office.
As 'Controller of the Affairs of the Kiltwearers', Queen Hetepheres II ran the civil service and, as well as overseers, governors and judges, two women even achieved the rank of vizier prime minister.
This was the highest administrative title below that of pharaoh, which they also managed on no fewer than six occasions. Egypt's first female king was the shadowy Neithikret c.
The next woman to rule as king was Sobeknefru c. A similar pattern emerged some three centuries later when one of Egypt's most famous pharaohs, Hatshepsut, again assumes traditional kingly regalia.During the dynastic period ( BC - BC), as the Greek historian Herodotus was intrigued to observe, Egyptian women enjoyed a legal, social and sexual independence unrivalled by their Greek or Roman sisters, unrivalled, indeed, by women in Europe until the late nineteenth century.
The social classes in ancient Egypt Two ancient views of Egyptian society, the first belonging to a king, Ramses III, who thought of his people as composed of noblemen, administrators, soldiers, personal attendants, and a multitude of citizens..
the princes, and leaders of the land, the infantry and chariotry, the Sherden, the numerous archers, and all the citizens of the land of Egypt.
The Status of Women in Ancient Egyptian Society Unlike the position of women in most other ancient civilizations, including that of Greece, the Egyptian woman seems to have enjoyed the same legal and economic rights as the Egyptian man-- at least in theory.4/4(1).
Childhood and upbringing in ancient Rome were determined by social status, wealth and gender. Roman children played a number of games, and their toys are known from archaeology and literary sources. The Pronunciation of Ancient Egyptian The issue of the pronunciation of the Ancient Egyptian language has recently become confused by popular presentations that ignore some of the essential and undoubted characteristics of Egyptian hieroglyphics, most importantly that Egyptian, just as today is usually the case with Arabic and Hebrew, did not write vowels -- except in late transcriptions of.
The Status of Women in. Ancient Egyptian Society: INTRODUCTION. Unlike the position of women in most other ancient and modern civilizations up to 30 years ago, including that of Greece, the Egyptian woman seems to have enjoyed the same legal and economic rights as the Egyptian man.