Perhaps we, as moderns, have been writing ancient women out of history in our facile efforts to include them. We do this, in particular, by emphasizing the absence of women in history, focusing superficially on exceptional images of women, and simplifying women into types that reflect our own expectations and values, and this approach obscures the complexities of ancient Near Eastern womanhood. However, by affording the ancient record its own voice, the individuality and complexity of women’s lives and facets of womanhood emerges to replace, rather than reiterate, the conventional grand narrative on “women” and to remind us that the ancient Near East was not as much of a man’s world as we have made it out to be.
Read more in my recent essay, “Women’s Lives in the Ancient Near East and Facets of Ancient Near Eastern Womanhood,” published in the catalogue for the Women at the Dawn of History exhibition at Yale University (Peabody Museum, 2020).
Amy Gansell, “Women’s Lives in the Ancient Near East and Facets of Ancient Near Eastern Womanhood,” pp. 15-23 in Women at the Dawn of History, edited by Agnete Lassen and Klaus Wagensonner, New Haven: Peabody Museum of Natural History and Yale Babylonian Collection, Yale University, 2020.