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Women in the Ancient World

Overview

This book takes a fresh look at visual representations of women in the ancient Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, and analyzes them for indications of women’s roles in these societies. After examining their traditional functions as wives and mothers, the author presents evidence of women’s participation in the public and religious spheres. Juxtapositions comparing images and attitudes of each society reveal whether the women portrayed are meant to be examples of perfect femininity or the object of scorn, ...

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Overview

This book takes a fresh look at visual representations of women in the ancient Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, and analyzes them for indications of women’s roles in these societies. After examining their traditional functions as wives and mothers, the author presents evidence of women’s participation in the public and religious spheres. Juxtapositions comparing images and attitudes of each society reveal whether the women portrayed are meant to be examples of perfect femininity or the object of scorn, faithful wives or untouchable priestesses or high-living prostitutes. Depictions of goddesses and the dress and adornments of women are analyzed for what they divulge about ideals of feminine beauty and attitudes toward female nudity. 

The text is packed with quotations from contemporary sources that reveal details about women in the ancient world, often with surprising resonance for our own time. The illustrations, many specially commissioned, include public art and domestic artifacts: sculptures, wall and mummy case paintings, engravings, silver objects, and jewelry.
 

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Essential.”—Choice

 

“There is much in this book to admire, not least the splendid selection of well-sized, quality-rich photographs that illustrate every page of the text. . . . Jennifer Neils’s work is highly recommended.”—Bryn Mawr Classical Review

“A comprehensive, engaging, and informative approach to the examination of the lives, roles, and perceptions of women as reflected in material culture, literature, law, myth, and history. . . . Well-written, entertaining, and beautifully illustrated, this book provides a fascinating synthesis of wide-ranging material.”—New England Classical Journal

“Lavishly illustrated. . . . Readers looking for an introduction to the subject of women in antiquity are certain to find much that is of interest in this book.”—CAA Reviews

Library Journal
With this book, Neils (art history & classics, Case Western Univ.; The Parthenon Frieze) enhances readers' understanding of women's lives through the study of ancient objects from the Near East, Egypt, Greece, and Rome from the Neolithic to early Byzantine periods. With the help of CAT scans and forensic science, much can be learned from ancient artifacts and remains. Three of the most characteristic representations of women were as wife, manager of the home, and sex goddess; however, images in the book also show woman as mother, weaver, and healer. Because the poor did not own many durable goods, the images and objects left to study are mainly from the wealthy and elite. Gold coins and jewelry, portrait and funerary statues, Greek vases, and other objects are used to show women's daily activities. VERDICT Well illustrated with 200 in-text color images, this book is a surprisingly fast and easy read. Time lines, a list of goddesses, and a glossary are included. Recommended for interested upper-level high school students through adults.—Nancy J. Mactague, Aurora Univ. Lib., IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606060919
  • Publisher: Getty Publications
  • Publication date: 10/11/2011
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 216
  • Sales rank: 1,434,780
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Neils is Ruth Coulter Heede Professor of Art History at Case Western Reserve University. She is the author of The British Museum Concise Introduction to Ancient Greece (British Museum, 2008) and The Parthenon Frieze (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

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