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Women in Ancient Egypt
EGYPT 280/380 Autumn, 1995
The Oriental Institute of Chicago
Janet H. Johnson
(jhj1@MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU)



NOTE: Readings (marked with a bullet) are to be read before class.

Week I: Introduction

Class 1: Sources

Class schedule, assignments


Class 2: Egyptian Attitudes & Assumptions

Egyptian view of history & geography
Role & importance of education vs birth
Filter: elite/educated male



Week II: Egyptian Texts: Literary

  • Robins, Women, Introduction, Chapter 10

    Class 1

    Secular stories

    Poetry

  • Lichtheim, AEL, II/181-93 (love poems)

    Class 2 : Wisdom literature

    • Lichtheim, AEL, I/61-80 (Ptahhotep)
    • II/135-46 (Any)
    • III/159-84 ('Onchsheshonqy)


    Week III

    Class 1: Religious literature: myths, hymns

    • Lichtheim, AEL, I/30-33 (PT),94-95 (Intef Stele)
    • II/81-86 (Hymn to Osiris), 92-100 (Hymns to the Aten), 107-9 (Hymn to Meretseger), 197-99 (Destruction of Mankind), 214-23 (O(H,.)orus & Seth)
    • III/107-9 (Hymns to Hathor), 116-21 (Lamentations of Isis & Nephthys), 156-59 (Myth of the Sun's Eye)
    • Parkinson, Voices, #21, 47
    • extra texts on handout

    Class 2: Artistic Presentation of Women: Dr. Ann Russmann or Gallery Tour

  • Fischer, Robins in WER, pp. 5-30 &105-21


    Week IV: Egyptian Texts: Non-literary

    Class 1

    "Biographical" inscriptions

    • Lichtheim, AEL, I/15-16 (Ni-sedjet-kai), 17-18
      (Ni-hebsed-Pepi), 18-27 (Weni), 84-85 (Indi), 87-88 (Merer), 90 (Qedes)
    • III/25-28 (Harwa), 36-41 (Udjahorresnet), 45-49 (Petosiris), 54-64 (Wennofer, Isinkhebe, Taimhotep)
    • extra texts on handout

    "Historical" inscriptions

    • Lichtheim, AEL, I/28 (Coptos Decree)
    • II/25-35 (Obelisk inscription of Hatshepsut, Annals of Thutmoses III [Battle of Megiddo]), 48-51 (Akhenaten)
    • III/86-89 (Naucratis Stele)
    • extra texts on handout

    Letters: literary, royal, to dead

    Wente, Letters, Chapters 1, 2, 12

    Class 2 : Letters: non-royal personal

  • Wente, Letters, Chapters 4-6, 8-11

    Week V: Women and (Political) Power

  • Robins, Women, Chapters 1-2

    Class 1: Political and administrative role of women

    Women in positions of power

  • extra texts on handout

    Women's indirect political power

    Class 2 : Cleopatra

  • Hughes-Hallett, Introduction, Chapters 1-3, 11

    Week VI: Social Status of Women

  • Robins, Women, Chapter 3-5

    Class 1: Women & family

  • Parkinson, Voices, #38

    Role of women in the family, family structure

  • extra text on handout

    Role of the family in society
    Women & education
    Social vs legal status

    Class 2: Love, sex, & fertility; Tom Dousa: Egyptian gynecological texts

  • Parkinson, Voices, #20, 49

    Week VII: Legal Status of Women

  • Robins, Women, Chapters 6-7

    Class 1: Civil & criminal law

  • Parkinson, Voices, #33

    civil law: legal status of women; property ownership

  • extra text on handout

    criminal law

    Class 2: Family law

  • Parkinson, Voices, #36

    marriage, inheritance

  • extra text on handout

    Week VIII: Economic Status of Women

    Class 1: Economic role of women

  • Parkinson, Voices, #22

    Women's direct economic activity in the home, outside the home
    Indirect economic influence of women


    Class 2: Thanksgiving; no class



    Week IX: Women and Egyptian Religion

  • Robins, Women, Chapters 8-9, Goddesses and Priestesses

    Week 1: Dr. Emily Teeter


    Week 2: Prof. Edward Wente



    Week X: Final preparation of papers

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