Women have a long history of emancipation, and even today full gender equality is yet to come. However, in ancient times, things used to be quite different. Women in ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt, India, and China had many rights, limitations, hobbies, and habits that we were not fully aware of.
We at Craft Sides collected the most interesting facts about ancient women that are not always mentioned in history classes.
Facts About Ancient Women
9. Roman Girls Had Their Own Version Of A Barbie
In ancient Rome, girls used to get married when they were only 12 years old. Although their childhood did not last long, they still played with toys.
One of them, as discovered in the late 1800s, was a wooden doll. It was found in a sarcophagus that belonged to a girl named Crepereia Tryphaena and lived in 2nd century Rome.
As we can see, it has certain similarities with our modern Barbie. However, it lacks the ideal dimensions of a modern Barbie, with a rounded belly and wide hips. A box full of clothing to dress the doll was also found in the sarcophagus.
8. Ancient Egyptian Women Had An Equal Right To Inherit The Throne
Egypt was much more democratic than many other ancient kingdoms. The main proof of this was the fact that, despite sex, any son of a ruler could inherit the throne.
The rights of men and women were almost equal, which was not really common at the time. Furthermore, the family line in ancient Egypt was drawn on the mother’s side, not the father’s.
This took root in a belief that the inheritance can be proven if the mother is known (because DNA testing for parents was not available at the time).
7. Greek Women Had The Right To Divorce
Although women in ancient Greece were not considered citizens and their rights and freedoms were severely limited, the divorce process was fairly fair.
If a woman wanted to divorce her husband, she only needed a male representative to make the deal on her behalf. However, if a man wanted a divorce, all he had to do was kick his wife out of their home.
6. Egyptian Women Could Hold High Religious Positions
It was never common for a woman to become seriously involved in religious life. However, ancient Egypt was an exception. Women in Egypt could occupy the position of “wife of God”, associated with different deities.
But the most important position was “God’s Wife of Amun.” This was an honorary title given to a woman (originally of any class, but later of the upper class) who would assist the high priest in ceremonies and care for the statue of God.
Also, it was not common for women to be housewives, and they used to mix in society. There are various artifacts in which women are portrayed as professional musicians, dancers, and party guests.
5. Roman Women Were Educated
The education of women in ancient Rome was a highly controversial topic. Most of the girls learned the basics of reading and writing at school.
However, some families wanted their daughters to gain a broader understanding and therefore hired private teachers for advanced grammar and Greek classes.
The reason was to make a girl a literate and interesting companion for her husband, making her more influential.
4. Greek Women Played “Jacks.”
Women in Greece liked to play different games, and among them was a game called “knucklebone” (astragalus), which is similar to modern “jacks.”
The game involved throwing the “knuckles” into the air and catching as many as possible in one hand as they fell. The “knucklebones” were the anklebones of sheep or goats or models made of ivory, bronze, or terracotta.
3. Roman Girls Wore Bikinis
As shown in this mosaic from the 4th century AD. C. found in Sicily, Roman girls used to wear something really similar to a modern bikini. And it looks so stylish! It is surprising how progressive the ancient Romans were.
2. Roman Women Were Quite Athletic
The same mosaic shows that Roman women also liked sports. This prototype of modern dumbbells looks really impressive. In ancient Rome, women had many recreational activities and rich social life.
1. A Chinese Woman Could Be Abandoned By Her Husband If She Talked Too Much
In ancient China, a woman had almost no rights and was considered the property of her husband. Marriages were arranged by professional matchmakers, and a woman generally met her husband for the first time during the wedding.
At a traditional wedding, the groom’s parents used to sit, and the bride wore a red dress and a blue cap and offered tea to her mother-in-law. The groom wore a band forming an “X” in front of him.
However, the reasons for a man to divorce were quite broad: not having a child, evidence of being unfaithful, lack of filial piety with the husband’s parents, theft, suffering from a virulent or infectious disease, jealousy, and talking too much.
Preview photo credit Yann Forget/wikimedia.org