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

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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