WOMEN IN ANCIENT EGYPT

Egyptian women were the only ones who had rights in ancient world. Although there was no equality of rights in Egypt, women had more to say than their friends in Rome or Greece. Even the Greek domination of Egypt, which began with the conquest of Alexander the Great, did not sweep away Egyptian social and political institutions. Egyptian women had then more privileges and civil rights than the Greek women living in the same society. However, the Tutankhamen's country was not free of intolerance. The men just preferred to abuse representatives of lower classes than their own wifes.

PROPERTY RIGHTS

Women in Ancient Egypt could manage and dispose of private property, including land, portable goods, servants, slaves, livestock and money (when it existed), as well as financial instruments. There were several ways for an Egyptian woman to acquire possessions. Usually they were given gifts or inheritances by their parents or husband. Sometimes they borrowed things and never return them. It is interesting, how women's economic cases during their marriage and after it proceeded. If a bride had had got a dowry, she would have known that her husband could take it without asking her. On the other hand, after divorce all things should have been returned. After husband's death the wife inherited one third of his possessions and the remaining two third were inherited by his children and his brothers and sisters.

There were some ways for women to take all the properties. For example, the man who had no children and who did not want to leave possessions for his brothers and sisters, could legally adopt his wife and give her all goods. Some women made their husbands disinherit his children and they had more money than they should.

RIGHTS AND BARS

Egyptian women did not had to hide their bodies. Moreover, they had to show bodies as often as they could, so usually they wore see-through, cool, close-fitting dresses. They made decisions, which had to be respected. They also could take part in trials as plaintiffs, accused or witnesses.

LITERACY

In the Old Kingdom only 1% of women could write and read. In comparison, one of 20 or 30 males could. Lower class women, certainly were illiterate. Some of middle class women and some wives of professional men were educated. Women of higher classes often had their own teachers, who taught them how to read and write. Girls from royal families were prepared to take over the throne.

WOMEN, FREEDOM, TRAVELLING

The Egyptian women in general were free to go about in public. They worked in fields and in estate workshops. Certainly, they did not wear a veil, which was first documented by archaeologists. However, it was probably unsafe for an Egyptian woman to venture far from her town alone. Ramesses III allowed women to travel without men, but he did not know that they could be raped.

OCCUPATIONS

n general, the work of the upper and middle class woman was limited to home and family. That constrained them as for their position in society. In the Old Kingdom some representatives of higher classes had textual sources. Some women were managing or selling them. This is commonly perceived as a prototype of women's management. Historical sources do not say much about women working as a managers, principals, officials or judges.

Obviously, it is known, that Egyptian women were queens and national heroines. The most interesting were Ahhotep, who was renowned for saving Egypt during the wars of liberation against the Hyksos, and Hatshepsut, who as a ruling female pharaoh was actually described as going on a military campaign in Nubia.

WOMEN AND CRIME

There weren’t many women-criminals in Ancient Egypt. The most interesting was the story of Nesmut, who was implicated in a series of robberies of the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings during the XX Dynasty.

Another famous case was conspiracy against Ramesses III. Majority of his concubines and lesser wives involved in this conspiracy were convicted and had their noses and ears cut off, while others were invited to commit suicide.

MARRIAGE

Marriage was a very important part of ancient Egyptian society. Men could marry more than one wife. People of close relations could also wed one another. The age of the bride and the groom was not important. Girl did not get married until she had begun to menstruate.

Marriage required no religious or legal ceremony. There were no special bridal clothes, no exchange of rings, no change of name to indicate marriage, and no word meaning "the wedding". The girl became a wife after she moved to husband's house.

The intimate life was extremely important. Egyptians saw a life as a cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Sex was seen as an act of procreation, rather than a way to express love and devotion. Pregnancy was very important to ancient women. It made the society, her husband and his family to show her respect. Men needed to prove their "manliness" by fathering as many children as they possibly could. If a woman was sterile, and could not produce babies, many men solved this problem by divorcing her. The women's advantage was that they could name the children immediately following birth.

Source: http://www.crystalinks.com/egyptianwomen.html