Women's Roles in Ancient Civilizations: A Reference Guide / Edition 1

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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.

Historical studies have tended to ignore women's roles in ancient civilizations and to devalue their contributions to the community. These essays examine women's religious, political, public, economic, and domestic roles, their legal status, creative expression in art and literature, and notions of beauty. Students can then compare women's roles across cultures. The contributors, each of whom is a subject specialist, examine not only the nature of women's limitations in patriarchal culture but the ways in which women often succeeded, despite these limitations, in becoming agents of social change. Each essay begins with a timeline of events in the history of that culture to place the narrative in historical context, and concludes with suggestions for further reading about women in that culture.

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Editorial Reviews

Most reference books on ancient civilizations ignore the contributions of women to the cultural development of China, India, Japan, Mesopotamia, the Levant, Egypt, West Africa, Greece, Rome, MesoAmerica, the Andes, and native North America. The scholarly but easy to read articles in this reference discuss in detail how women actively participated in society based on evidence of archeological finds, early written material if it existed, and records of first contacts with western European societies. A brief introduction discusses essential concepts and terms and explains the scope of the book. Every chapter begins with a time line, that puts each culture into historical context, since "ancient" is loosely defined as when that particular culture flourished. In addition to roles traditionally viewed as femalebearing and raising children, gathering and preparing food, weavingthe more sweeping influences of women on developing cultures are emphasized. Women were writers, artists, priests, warriors, politicians, prostitutes, and laborers, and readers learn fascinating facts about family life, customs, and ceremonies involving women. The crossreferenced index is quite useful and excerpts from poems and other writings, blackandwhite photographs, illustrations, and maps enhance the text. A short glossary and information about the contributors are also included. This work is rich with information on how women lived and were viewed and treated by men in these ancient civilizations. It is an excellent and much needed resource for high school and public libraries. Glossary. Index. Illus. Photos. Maps. Source Notes. Further Reading. Chronology. 1999, Greenwood, Ages 13 to Adult, 408p. PLB$59.95.Reviewer: Lois ParkerHennion
Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-Unique in scope, this dense guide to what the scanty evidence tells us about women in 12 ancient societies will fill a gap in libraries serving academic high schools with strong history or women's studies programs. Each essay, written by a subject specialist, opens with a map and chronology and closes with a summary, explanatory notes, and suggested further reading. In between, the author analyzes art, artifacts, myths, texts, and, where possible-as in the survey of Ojibway and Iroquois cultures-surviving traditions for insights into the general roles and individual accomplishments of women, as well as misconceptions or outright biases in contemporary and later accounts. The book is not designed for quick reference "Astarte," for instance, is indexed only under "Goddesses, Levant" and there are no cross-references. The black-and-white photos are sparse and muddy. Still, used in conjunction with differently focused books such as Margaret Ehrenberg's Women in Prehistory Univ. of Oklahoma, 1990; o.p., this systematic and eye-opening resource will furnish serious students with a sturdy base for topical research in many areas of social history.-John Peters, New York Public Library Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313301278
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/30/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 408
  • Lexile: 1390L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

BELLA VIVANTE is Associate Professor in the Humanities Program at the University of Arizona.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I Asia: The Far East
Ch. 1 Women in Ancient China 3
Ch. 2 Women in Ancient India 35
Ch. 3 Women in Ancient Japan 63
Pt. II Asia: The Near East
Ch. 4 Women in Ancient Mesopotamia 85
Ch. 5 Women in the Ancient Levant 115
Pt. III Africa
Ch. 6 Women in Ancient Egypt 155
Ch. 7 Women in Ancient West Africa 189
Pt. IV The Mediterranean
Ch. 8 Women in Ancient Greece 219
Ch. 9 Women in the Ancient Roman World 257
Pt. V The Americas
Ch. 10 Women in Ancient Mesoamerica 293
Ch. 11 Women in the Ancient Andes 313
Ch. 12 Native Women in Ancient North America: Ojibway and Iroquois 339
Glossary 363
Index 367
About the Contributors 387
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