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Study Questions for the Barbara Lesko Essay
and Class Lecture

Women in Ancient Egypt

How were rulers chosen in Egypt, and what are some ways that royal families maintained control?

What are the religious/literary/mythical parallels of this?

Women's Rights

What evidence is there that women in Egypt had a relatively equal position in society in regard to the position of men?  List and explain at least three proofs.

Royal Women

Describe one ruling Egyptian woman and explain her rise and maintenance of power.

Love and Marriage

What was the typical attitude toward pre-marital sex in Egypt?  Did this benefit or disadvantage women?

What was the sankh deed and what did it do?

How did Greeks perceive the Egyptians?

Women in Ancient Western Asia

Does western Asiatic society tend to be more or less patriarchal than Egyptian society?  What proofs support that?


How were elite (upper-class) Sumerian women treated differently than poor Sumerian women?


What do scholars link to marriage's becoming an economic and legal union?

Did Sumerian women have security in their marriages or families?  Why or why not?


What is the political situation for women early in Sumer's history?

How does that change as the society develops?

How does it change when the society wages wars or falls under military attack?


Although the Akkadian ruler Sargon was a military leader, there is evidence that he held women in high esteem.  What evidence supports that he had a positive view of women?

As the society changes, how do/does the attitude/s toward sexual relations change/s?

What are some of the laws regarding sexual practice at the end of the Sumerian culture?

The Amorite Kingdoms

What evidence is there that elite women in Amorite kingdoms had more privileges or rights than poorer women?



What were the naditu women, and how were their families able to maintain control of their dowries?  Was this arrangement preferable for the women than for the women forced into marriage?  Why or why not?


How does the faith of the Babylonian people affect their legal system?

What does lex talionis mean?  How did it work?  Were all people treated equally under Babylonian law?

Were men and women allowed the same rights in regard to sexual behavior under Babylonian law?


Why does Barbara Lesko call Assyria, a "patriarchy in extreme?


In Assyria, marriages were business arrangements.  What did this mean for women?  Briefly list the economic rights (or lack thereof) of Assyrian women.

The Regulation of Sexuality

What did a veil represent, and why were they worn?

What are two possible motivations for Assyrian law's placement of a high value on a bride's virginity?

Who were, generally speaking, the most powerful women in Assyria?

 Ancient Israel

How did the Israelites support themselves (around late thirteenth-century BC)?

Explain briefly how Israeli society separated itself based on gender and how it enforced gender differences.

What were the Hebrew peoples attitudes toward sex?

What rights (or lack thereof) did Hebrew women have?

On the line below, plot Ancient Egypt, Ancient Israel, and Assyria on a continuum of Matriarchy/Patriarchy.

Matriarchy                                                                                    Patriarchy