Ceres Magazine Issue 4 - Fall 2016 - Page 77

Once more, we are going back in time to discover the fascinating world of Ancient Egypt, its pharaohs, and its queens. Contrary to most other ancient societies, Egyptian women were treated equally to Egyptian men, at least in theory. We will analyze why Egyptian women had better privileges and more rights than other women, even after Egypt had been conquered by the Greeks, which run a patriarchal system, in 332 B.C.

Legal rights in Ancient Egypt were based on differences in social class and not on gender. Women and men enjoyed the same legal and economic rights. A woman could acquire possessions, either as gifts or inheritance. She could manage, own, and sell private property, land, goods, servants, and livestock. She had her own money, and was allowed to resolve legal settlements. She could contractually marry or divorce at will, even execute testaments, free slaves or adopt children. This differed from many other civilizations, such as the Greeks, who required a designated male, often a husband, father or brother, to represent her in such proceedings.

We will also look at the woman’s transition from childhood to adulthood, and how those milestones were perceived, then, and why there were no age-limits to marry. Egyptian marriages allowed husbands to marry more than one wife, and also relatives, though incest was not favored, except in the royal family. To be acknowledged as a wife, a girl had only to leave her home and enter her husband’s; however, the woman kept her independence, and control over her own assets.

-- Al Mohymont

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A painted depiction of Senet (in the tomb of Queen Nefertari, Valley of the Queens, Thebes, Egypt), one of the world's earliest known board games. Photo PD

Giza Pyramids. Photo PD

77 | Ceres Magazine | Fall 2016