Dancing for Hathor: Women in Ancient Egypt by Carolyn Graves-Brown

By Carolyn Graves-Brown

The fragmentary proof permits us in basic terms tantalising glimpses of the subtle and intricate society of the traditional Egyptians, however the Greek historian Herodotus believed that the Egyptians had 'reversed the standard practices of mankind' in treating their ladies greater than any of the opposite civilizations of the traditional international . Carolyn Graves-Brown attracts on funerary is still, tomb work, structure and textual proof to discover all points of girls in Egypt from goddesses and queens to girls because the 'vessels of creation'. maybe strangely the commonest occupation for girls, after housewife and mom, used to be the priesthood, the place girls served deities, particularly Hathor, with song and dance. Many could come to the temples of Hathor to have their desires interpreted, or to hunt divine suggestion. it is a broad ranging and revealing account advised with authority and verve.

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13 Women are rarely shown actively engaged in any vigorous activity in tomb art, and they appear as passive partners to the male. This is even the case in the Old Kingdom, where it could be argued that women had more status than in later periods. Men are shown striding forward, while women stand with their legs closer together. 14 By tradition, women may cling to, or adore their active husbands, but in a study of 42 New Kingdom couples, only 2 show reciprocal gestures of affection. 16 Usually, women stand by their husbands, who are actively hunting the birds.

The idea of the female goddess aside, support for this argument demands proof that women were confined to the family and the home. The claim that it is natural for women to work in the home due to the restrictions of child rearing is debatable. Furthermore, while it is clear that the early Egyptian state did indeed rely to some extent on kinship, this is an area which is not clearly understood. The continuing importance of kinship perhaps explains the importance of the king’s mother (discussed below), and the family ties in Hathorian priesthood (see below).

22 This quotation, which comes from the Middle Kingdom Instruction of Amenemhat I, makes it clear that the ancient Egyptians considered it unlikely for women to be in charge of troops; throughout Egyptian history non-royal 38 D A N C I N G F O R H AT H O R women are non-combatant. Goddesses, however, were very different, possibly relating to their androgynous nature or perhaps a result of their apartness from human society. Queens, who took on the role of goddesses, that is, women who were the ‘King’s Principal Wife’ or the ‘King’s Mother’, might claim certain aspects of the warring goddess.

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