How did the status of women vary in ancient societies? What were the most important factors that determined the status, freedoms and power of women in ancient societies, and why?
The role of women in most ancient times is not equal to men. Men and society think that women are inferior to men, and they did not get similar stature as men and the status of women low throughout civilization. Ancient civilisation has been based primarily on men, or we can say that it is a male-driven society. Several exceptions are there, and some privileges are given to the elite class women, but for most women get a subservient role to play.
The most important factors that determined the status of women
There are various shreds of evidence found in the form of oracle bone that tells us about the women’s role in China’s Shang dynasty. It shows that women from elite classes hold leadership positions. An instance of Fu Hao, who holds a military leadership position. There are some bronzes, jades, ivory, and pottery found, and it gives an insight into her high status. But women who are not from the elite class do the household chores and live in control of their husbands (Essays, (n.d.)).
Babylonia in Mesopotamia is male-driven society, and generally, all women are found that they are in control of their husbands. Around 2nd BCE, women involved in several economic endeavours. Women have the right to purchase and sell the land, property which they receive from their ancestors. Women also work in factories in which they have to make perfumes, weaving and dyeing the clothes, manufacturing and selling beer, and to run the wine shops. As Mesopotamia was a male-driven society, women were taking care of and get high status.
In ancient Egypt, the society was male-dominated, and women are not permitted to hold any government position. That’s is why women were not able to take participate in the bureaucracy. They cannot be the owner of the land, and they cannot work independently. Both classes, elite and lower-class women, have to do the household duties, and they have to live under their husband’s control. But women have equal rights to their ancestor’s property, and they get a fair share as men in the property.
Minoan Crete is the first European society where women held a very high status. Women are permitted to participate in all political and social decisions. Women also engaged in sports, arts, and all different business ventures. The main religion of Minoan was the worship of the great mother goddess, and this goddess is their supreme deity. The religion in Minoan is female-dominated and generally based on females. But after falling on Minoan Crete, the status of women also starts falling from all the legal rights that they were enjoying.
The Han dynasty believed in the principles of Confucianism. Under this, the dynasty doesn’t give equal rights to women. Men think that women are incapable of learning the skills of education, and they cannot learn. The Han dynasty is the extreme example that thinks women are subservient to men. But in the family, the dominant power or authority hold by mothers and mother-in-law.
The Roman Empire is primarily male-dominated. Wives have to live under their husband’s control, and daughters have to live under their father’s control for their whole life. Mostly, women have to supervise the household work, raise their children and supervise the slaves. Women can only enjoy the social gathering only if they get permission from their father or husband. If women were educated, fashionable, beautiful, and witty, then these all attributes were the assets for their husband or father (Women in world history, (n.d.)).
This is how we determined the status, freedoms and power of women in ancient societies. In almost all the ancient civilisations, women are inferior to men. In some communities, they are more inferior, and in some, they are less, but in all, they treated as subservient to men. The role and importance of women are different in different civilization. Some empires provide power to women, and some control women. However, women have a different role to play in a distinct time and realm.
Essays. (n.d.). Women in the Year 1000 C.E. Retrieved on June 15, 2020, from
Women in world history. (n.d.). Early modern period. Instruction. Retrieved on June 15,
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