The Change of Women’s Lives HIS 103 World Civilizations I (AFF1238A) Instructor: Steven Brownson October 15, 2012 Women’s lives, roles, and statuses changed over various early world history eras and culture areas in many ways. Ancient Persia, Paleolithic, Athens, Mesopotamian and Roman eras were all different in very unique ways. The Paleolithic era treated women fairly and were treated equally. During the Neolithic era women were not treated fairly. She was the daughter of her father or the wife of her husband.
Women rarely acted as individuals outside the context of their families. Those who did so were usually royalty or the wives of men who had power and status. ” (oi. uchicago. edu, 2010) Athenian women were not treated fairly either almost as if they were not even a citizen. “Laws forbade women and children from participation in political, judicial, and military affairs. ”(Mahdavi, 2012) During the Ancient Persian Empire women brought more to their marriage than the men did. They could also divorce their husbands without reason and explanation.
The Ancient Persian Empire is when women’s roles really began to change. Women that lived within the Roman Empire were expected to have a guardian because the Romans believe the women were not responsible enough to do things without. Although, women were still considered property, they had more options and rights as a woman. During the Paleolithic era women’s roles were to gather food, and provide meals for their families. The Paleolithic women had a decent lifestyle compared to other eras. “In the Paleolithic era women were treated equal to men.
Women gathered wild grains, fruits, nuts, and melons. Using digging sticks and carrying bags, they also collected edible roots and tubers, as well as bugs like termites, caterpillars, and locusts. Though meat was especially prized, modern anthropologists have found that in foraging society’s women contribute more calories to the general diet than do men. ” (Mahdavi, 2012) In the case of Paleolithic women they brought more nutrition to their families which helped them get through their days, with a nutritional food supply. Foraging peoples paid close attention to their physical environment. They timed their movements to coincide with seasonal migrations of animals and the growth cycle of the plants they gathered. Women’s focus on gathering plants probably led them to care for and begin to cultivate the plants they selected to eat. ” (Mahdavi, 2012) “Gender roles were defined, as men generally hunted and women gathered, but they were not hierarchical.
Because of the importance of women as gatherers and as child bearers, and perhaps also as healers, it is thought that the social status of women was equal to that of men in early human populations. ” (Mahdavi, 2012) Being equal to men was a very rare thing during early history eras. Not a lot of women were thought as equals. Once humans settled into permanent agrarian environments, gender roles became more defined—women tended crops and raised children, while men hunted large game and herded cattle—which set the stage for a less egalitarian society. Mahdavi, 2012) While men and women in hunting-and-gathering groups often did (and do) have different roles and duties, overall it has been surmised that strict gender delineations and hierarchies of power and equality were not in evidence until after men and women had built cities and settled into routines vastly different than had been the norm from about 200,000 BP until ca. 7000 BP. Women and men who hunted and gathered as a way of life had little need for official politics— no mayors or emperors—because groups were small and generally self-regulatory.
Also, if game animals and edible flora were close to an encampment, both sexes often hunted and gathered. But women who were pregnant or with small children certainly could not track or attack, making men more necessary in those scenarios, a dynamic compounded not by horticulture (the growing of food with human muscle power and simple tools) but definitely by pastoralism and war. (Mahdavi, 2012) Women were responsible for growing crops, which provided food to their families and to their communities.
As humans settled down to grow crops, women seem to have been responsible for much of the labor, giving them an advantage as new social roles were being created. They were responsible for feeding society, as well as for carrying and nursing the next generation. (Mahdavi, 2012) Women being responsible for the next generation is a very big responsible. Not only were they responsible for growing crops and providing meals for their families they were expected to make the next generation ready to follow in their footsteps in order to survive. Mesopotamian women did not have very much freedom at all.
They were expected to follow the laws of Hammurabi’s code, which were not very fair to women. “The Mesopotamian woman’s role was strictly defined. She was the daughter of her father or the wife of her husband. Women rarely acted as individuals outside the context of their families. Those who did so were usually royalty or the wives of men who had power and status. ” (oi. uchicago. edu, 2010) Mesopotamian women were very limited to what they could or could not do. “Most girls were trained from childhood for the traditional roles of wife, mother, and housekeeper.
They learned how to grind grain, how to cook and make beverages, especially beer, and how to spin and weave cloth for clothing. If a woman worked outside of her home, her job usually grew out of her household tasks. She might sell the beer she brewed, or even become a tavern keeper. Childbearing and childcare roles led women to become midwives and also to create medicines that prevented pregnancy or produced abortions. ” ( oi. uchicago. edu, 2010) “Soon after puberty, a young girl was considered ready for marriage. Marriages were arranged by the families of the future bride and groom.
Ceremonies have been described where the future husband poured perfume on the head of the bride. He also gave her family money and other presents. Once a woman was engaged, she was considered part of her fiance’s family. If her husband-to-be died before the wedding, she was then married to one of his brothers or another male relative. ”(oi. uchicago. edu, 2010) The lives of Athenian women were a lot like the Mesopotamian women. They were left with little to no rights and were expected to be the daughter of her father and the wife of her husband. Although Solon’s reforms made it possible for all citizens to participate in government decisions, the system still disenfranchised significant elements of society. For example, laws forbade women and children from participation in political, judicial, and military affairs. Slaves had no rights whatsoever, and metics (foreign residents)—Greeks who migrated to Athens without proof of citizenship—had no participatory rights. Out of a population of roughly 300,000, only about 45,000 (15 percent) were considered Athenian citizens. (Mahdavi, 2012) “Women were not treated like regular citizens because of their status of being a woman. Fathers would marry off their young teenage daughter to men in their 30s. They were not allowed to meet their new groom until a contract had been agreed upon. Even then, the bride would not become a full member of her new family until the first healthy child was born. If the child survived mortality, the husband would decide if the baby would be kept. ” (http://vccslitonline. cc. va. us, 2002) “Women could not divorce their husbands without providing an archon or public official with good reason to do so.
Husbands, however, could divorce a wife and send her home at any time. They could, also, stop a woman from finding a public official by confining her to the home. Athenian fathers could end a marriage up until the first child was born. If the woman was successfully divorced, she would lose all rights to her children. Women were not supposed to be seen in public, had no rights to vote or take part in state operation, and could no watch or participate in the Olympic Games. ” (http://vccslitonline. cc. va. us, 2002) “Women, too, were expected to be loyal and dedicated to the state.
Like men, women followed a strict exercise program and contributed actively to Spartan society. Although, they were not allowed to vote, Spartan women typically had more rights and independence than women in other Greek city-states. ” (ushistory. org, 2012) “Women were expected to manage the house and slaves, make all the clothing and coordinate weddings, funerals (no crying was allowed of these women, their only function was to prepare the body, carry the libations during the funeral, make sure that food was delivered to the gravesite on the 3rd and 9th day), and state religious events. ((http://vccslitonline. cc. va. us, 2002) “The only women that had any rights in Athens were the Concubines or hetaerae whom were considered the prostitutes. They could move freely through society; however it was noted that they were highly exploited. They could develop relationships with their male companions and have children, but their children were illegitimate and, therefore, not citizens of Athens. Women of poorer classes that did not have slaves worked in the fields and in the marketplace alongside the men. (http://vccslitonline. cc. va. us, 2002) During the Ancient Persian era women had a lot more rights. “First, they were clearly influenced by their own notions of a woman’s place. In Greece, women were property, generally uneducated, and in the words of a friend of mine, “not second class citizens, just second-class. ” In Athens and many city-states, their only real “right” was “to make citizens. ” That is, citizenship was traced through the maternal line, although in all other respects Greek society was overwhelmingly patriarchal. (greathistory. com, 2009) “Persian women as generally sequestered and hidden behind veils, having no role in society or commerce except for the occasional powerful woman who, by the power of seduction, influenced the judgment of kings, usually with ill results. ” (greathistory. com, 2009) “Women brought a dowry into marriage, and that dowry formed part of the marital property owned in common by the husband and wife. But either party could divorce the other, with or without cause, and in that case the dowry returned to the wife.
More interesting are the records of wives retaining property of their own aside from the dowry, including shares in commercial concerns and real estate, which they sold or traded without reference to their husbands. Upon death of parents, property passed to the children, with equal shares going to male and female children. ” (greathistory. com, 2009) “Aside from property ownership, the Treasure Records give us a fascinating insight into women at work in ancient Persia. The Treasury records enumerate amounts paid to laborers and contractors who undertook work in and around Persepolis.
The records also tell us the names of the workers, their gender, and their responsibilities. Enterprises were undertaken by teams of workers under a manager, and while some occupations were restricted primarily to a single gender (most weavers were female, for example), the range of occupations in which women worked is remarkable: wood-workers, stone-workers, artisans, wine-makers, furniture-makers, treasury clerks, store keepers, carriers, and grain-handlers. Most trades included both male and female workers, often mixed in the same work teams.
Female managers controlled teams of female workers but also mixed teams of males and females. ” (greathistory. com, 2009) “Rates of pay are also surprising. Men were paid slightly more than women in unskilled jobs like manual labor. In skilled occupations, however, there was no difference in pay based on gender, and some female managers were paid more than the vast majority of male workers. Women also received paid maternity leave. ” (greathistory. com, 2009) “Women within the upper tier of society enjoyed more opportunities than their poorer neighbors. They could own and sell property, for example.
And it is possible that throughout Persia, women had the opportunity to work and even to own businesses. Women owned property, often managed their own assets, could work and earn wages for themselves, and were capable of becoming economically independent. Still, the culture was patriarchal, allowing men to have multiple wives and to keep concubines at home. ” (Mahdavi, 2012) “The Romans believed that all women should be under the control of a guardian, who might be the father, husband, or a male relative, or someone appointed by the will of the father or husband, or by an official of the state. (http://www. the-romans. co. uk, 2007) “Women were not citizens of Rome. Only adult free men were citizens. The ancient Roman men believed that a woman had to be under a guardianship. That guardianship could be a father or a husband. But they believed a woman was unable to direct her own activities. ” (http://rome. mrdonn. org, 2008) “The only exceptions up until the time of Augustus were the six vestal virgins; after Augustus the rule was relaxed in cases of freeborn women who had had three children and freedwomen who had had four, provided that there was no husband or father to exercise control.
It was customary for marriages to be arranged, and for the size of the dowry to match the social standing of the prospective bridegroom. ”(http://www. the-romans. co. uk, 2007) “While men were busy tending the fields and herding their animals in the common pastureland, women were tending the home, raising children, preparing food, baking bread, making cheese, spinning wool, and making clothes. In many cases, women also helped with plowing the fields and harvesting the crops. ” (Mahdavi, 2012) “Roman Women enjoyed a similar, if not the same education as boys in early childhood.
As young men went on to learn about law and rhetoric the women were expected to learn how to run a household, play musical instruments and to study poems and literature. A Roman woman was expected to support the political aspirations of her family although she could not become directly involved. The role of the vast majority of Roman Women was as the supportive wife to her husband. However, some free Roman women did perform duties and the roles of teachers, secretaries and saleswomen. There is also evidence of female doctors.
One of the most surprising of all roles or jobs undertaken by women was that of Female Gladiators. ” (http://www. roman-colosseum. info, 2008) The lives and roles of women during early world history was hard work. Women were expected to be the property of a man or their family until they were married. Women worked just as hard as men and got paid less up until the Persian Empire where women had more control over the work place and their own lives. Although they were still expected to be property, they could o. n their own property; sell property without discussing and asking permission from their husbands. Unlike the Mesopotamian women they were expected to take care of their families and child bear, and follow their husband’s decisions. The women that lived in the Roman Empire were a lot like the Mesopotamian women’s roles and had very few rights. The Mesopotamian women did not have much say so in their lives at all. A lot changed in between the Paleolithic and Ancient Persia era.
Woman lost their right and equality and began to gain right and equality back, which gave them a strong sense of independence. Reference Page http://greathistory. com/ Mahdavi, F. (2012). World History: The human experience to 1500. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education http://oi. uchicago. edu/OI/MUS/ED/TRC/MESO/women. html http://www. roman-colosseum. info/roman-life/roman-women. htm http://www. the-romans. co. uk/women. htm http://www. ushistory. org/civ/5a. asp http://vccslitonline. cc. va. us/antigone/Power-of-Women-in-Athens. htm