The Role of Women in Work and Society in the Ancient Near East


Ed. by Lion, Brigitte / Michel, Cécile

Studies in Ancient Near Eastern Records (SANER) 13

xi, 574 pages, 35 Fig. Boston/Berlin : De Gruyter, 2016. ISBN 978-1-61451-908-9


Ancient History; Ancient Near Eastern Studies; Ancient Economic History; Women and Gender Studies


Economic history is well documented in Assyriology, thanks to the preservation of dozens of thousands of clay tablets recording administrative operations, contracts and acts dealing with family law. Despite these voluminous sources, the topic of work and the contribution of women have rarely been addressed.
This book examines occupations involving women over the course of three millennia of Near Eastern history. It presents the various aspects of women as economic agents inside and outside of the family structure. Inside the family, women were the main actors in the production of goods necessary for everyday life. In some instances, their activities exceeded the simple needs of the household and were integrated within the production of large organizations or commercial channels. The contributions presented in this volume are representative enough to address issues in various domains: social, economic, religious, etc., from varied points of view: archaeological, historical, sociological, anthropological, and with a gender perspective.

Table of Contents

Foreword v

Acknowledgements vii

Brigitte Lion and Cécile Michel

Women and Work in the Ancient Near East: An introduction 1

Catherine Breniquet

Weaving, Potting, Churning: Women at work during the Uruk period. Evidence from the cylinder seals 8

Camille Lecompte

Representation of Women in Mesopotamian Lexical Lists 29

Fumi Karahashi

Women and Land in the Presargonic Lagaš Corpus 57

Maria Giovanna Biga

The Role of Women in Work and Society in the Ebla Kingdom (Syria, 24th century BC) 71

Massimo Maiocchi

Women and Production in Sargonic Adab 90

Adelheid Otto

Professional Women and Women at Work in Mesopotamia and Syria (3rd and early 2nd millennia BC): The (rare) information from visual images 112

Bertrand Lafont

Women at Work and Women in Economy and Society during the Neo-Sumerian Period 149

Agnès Garcia-Ventura

The Sex-Based Division of Work versus Intersectionality: Some strategies for engendering the Ur III textile work force 174

Cécile Michel

Women Work, Men are Professionals in the Old Assyrian Archives 193

Jerrold S. Cooper

The Job of Sex: The social and economic role of prostitutes in ancient Mesopotamia 209

Jana Matuszak

“She is not fit for womanhood”: The Ideal Housewife According to Sumerian Literary Texts 228

Ichiro Nakata

Economic Activities of nadītum-Women of Šamaš Reflected in the Field Sale Contracts (MHET II/1–6) 255

Katrien De Graef

Cherchez la femme! The Economic Role of Women in Old Babylonian Sippar 270

Nele Ziegler

Economic Activities of Women According to Mari Texts (18th century BC) 296

Sophie Démare-Lafont

Women at Work in Mesopotamia: An attempt at a legal perspective 310

Matteo Vigo

Sources for the Study of the Role of Women in the Hittite Administration 328

Brigitte Lion

Work and Gender in Nuzi Society 354

Josué J. Justel

Women in Economic Agreements: Emarite sale contracts (Syria, 13th century BC) 371

Masamichi Yamada

The kubuddā’u-Gift in the Emar Texts 388

Eiko Matsushima

Women in Elamite Royal Inscriptions: Some observations 416

Virginie Muller

Women and their Activities in Divinatory Texts 429

Saana Svärd

Studying Gender: A Case study of female administrators in Neo-Assyrian palaces 447

Francis Joannès

Historiography on Studies Dedicated to Women and Economy during the Neo-Babylonian Period 459

Louise Quillien

Invisible Workers: The role of women in textile production during the 1st millennium BC 473

Yoko Watai

Economic Activities of Women in 1st Millennium Babylonia 494

Laura Cousin

Beauty Experts: Female perfume-makers in the 1st millennium BC 512

Julien Monerie

Women and Prebends in Seleucid Uruk 526

Violaine Sebillotte Cuchet

Women and the Economic History of the Ancient Greek World: Still a challenge for gender studies 543

Index of professions and activities 565

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