Egyptian women under patriarchal mentality-1

Forgotten pages of the history of Egyptian women in ancient Egypt

News Center - The Egyptian civilization is one of the most developed civilizations for caring for women, compared to ancient civilizations. Many historical monuments and documents found by researchers and archaeologists in the Nile Valley have documented life in that era, and the value of women in that society. But nowadays, Egypt witnesses frightening proportions of femicide, in addition, Egyptian society monopolizes the freedom of women and attacks their dignity by using FGM, honor crimes, and examination of virginity. We will mention, and discuss the conditions of Egyptian women in the past to the present day in this file.

Women ... forgotten history

Written history and archaeological finds indicate that the Egyptian civilization extends for more than thirty centuries, beginning around the year 3150 B.C.

But there is an unwritten history that is intentionally ignored when talking about the hidden history of women spanning more than five thousand years B.C.

We talk about the history since the beginning of male domination of society.

The discovery of agriculture in the lands of Egypt, especially around the Nile, is one of the most important discoveries that contributed to the formation of a great empire later, thanks to the women who discovered it and increased their position in their society.

Myths gave a great sanctity to women, described as a symbol of life based on their ability to bear children, and considered gods of benevolence, as they gave their children milk.

The ancient Egyptians linked fertility and motherhood and celebrated Mothers' Day in the flood season of the Nile River. Eid rituals are held in Hatur, which is the third month in the ancient Egyptian calendar starting from November 11 to December 9, this date was chosen in relation to the gods Hatur, the symbol of love and beauty. During the celebration, the statue of Isis holding her son Horus surrounded by flowers, offerings, and gifts is placed and the celebration begins with sunrise.

he myth of Isis and Osiris refers to a woman sacrificing for the sake of her son. Isis maintained her position as an example of fulfillment and sacrifice.

According to what the Kurdish philosopher and leader Abdullah Öcalan revealed to us, the missing historical period (the history of women or the maternal system) extends to more than 98% of history.

The spiritual aspect has a special place for all peoples because humans at that time could not explain many natural phenomena they resorted to worshiping a superpower that is the gods, and as it is said if God did not exist we would have invented it and because the spiritual aspect of the most important aspect of human life was to name gods. Females are of great importance in the history of women, revealing to us, as it is the sincere and the destination that people intend.

A large group of gods protecting women spread during labor, including the gods “Haqqat” which is in the form of a frog, and the god “Tawart” which is in the form of a hippopotamus who has a female chest and aids in his mission the god “Bas” who is in the form of a dwarf.

The male god appeared against the female god but the greatest spiritual standing of the female god such as Isis, Bakht, Haat, Mahit, and others remained, and after the imposition of the man himself the spread of the male god began and the two sexes shared an equal spiritual position along with the people.

The relationship between the male and female gods were strained and the conflict began after the male gods conspired against the female gods, but the male wasn’t able to get rid of the influence of the female, the revealed statues of male gods with heads or female bodies, including the god of war "Bakht" who was in the form of the body of a woman and the head of a lioness with the sun on it, as well as the god of the dead "Hathor" in the form of a woman carrying a crown of two centuries between them a sun, and pictures sometimes in the form of a lioness, cow, snake, tree, and others.

As for priesthood, it was a hereditary function, and women could be priestesses regardless of the class from which they descended, and their priestly activities are limited to singing, dancing, and playing which Egyptian women were created from an early age, and musical women are groups headed by "great musicians" and are usually the wife of a senior official. The king also assigns female priests to female gods who enjoy substantial material income and a prominent social status, some of the female priests worked in the Religion Theater.

Women's rights

 Some historical documents and writings reveal the women's right to own property, and to manage their own business without the need for a guardian, so the women-owned lands, slaves, and money gave slaves their freedom and had the right to adopt a child and inherit.

 In addition, the women could conclude contracts and attested to marriage contracts, and had the right to file a complaint at that time, as some old texts were written on clay tablets and lime shows.

Also, women enjoyed social rights equal to that of men, so the cemeteries of women and men were not differentiated; it was discovered in AL-Aqser that queens and princesses were buried.

Political power

With the beginning of the era of families, 30 ruling families, in which a priest classified the king Mina after the unification of the kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt around the year 3200 BC, women held various positions, in politics and the judiciary.

But a few ancient Egyptians were able to be queens or take over the administration of the country individually and as we mentioned the queen was always associated with a male or a male god so she was called royal wife or the wife of the god, in addition, the absence of a female "pharaoh" compared to male" pharaoh", the throne was inherited by the male, on the condition that the woman shared the man’s rule, and the myth says that whoever excludes his wife from the rule is subject to the wrath of the people.

So women were not allowed to take the throne and receive the power individually, but they could do so if the king died and he had no heir, or if the heir was of a young age, then his mother would be the guardian of the throne.

With the development of Egyptian civilization, women emerged more strongly at the end of the seventeenth family, that is, after the expulsion of the Hyksos occupiers who ruled Egypt for nearly a hundred years.

The most famous queen in ancient Egypt is Queen Nefertiti, who ruled during the rule of her husband, Akhenaten, Pharaoh of the eighteenth family in the fourteenth century BC, and the history is considered Nefertiti as one of the strongest women in ancient Egypt. But unfortunately, her image was distorted and her name was erased from the historical records after her death. Nefertiti appears in the antiquities with a limestone statue carved half of her face and was found by German archaeologist "Ludvig Borshardt" in 1912 AD in Tal el-Amarna in Minya Governorate in Egypt, and it has another red quartz statue, but it is less famous.

Also, Queen Hatshepsut, who ruled during the period between (1458 to 1473 BC) as guardian of her son, and the country prevailed during her rule of security and stability, and art and architecture emerged greatly, and missions were dispatched to Somalia and Yemen for trade and bringing incense, perfumes, and spices. Hatshepsut reopened coal and copper mines in the Sinai Peninsula.

 There are queens who did not receive much fame and the history does not mention much of them, such as Queen "Marit Nate", archaeologists consider her as a key to the rule of the Pharaohs, after they found her cemetery in 1900 in the ancient city of Abydos, It dates back to the year 2970 BC. Some manuscripts indicated the belief that Marit Nate ruled the country alone.

Queen "Khant Kaus" of the Fourth family, played an important role in the succession of the Fourth and Fifth families.  Archaeologists believe that she ruled as a guardian for her son, she wrote, at the gate of the pyramid, which she built on the Giza Plateau, "King of the sea and tribal sides, the royal mother, and the daughter of God".

Queen "Sabk Nefro" is the first woman to effectively rule Egypt without being a guardian of the throne, and the nickname "Lady of All Women". She was mentioned in history as the last king of the Twelfth Dynasty, she ruled in 1789 BC for four years. The direct source for research on the history of Egyptian civilization Bardya Torin has mentioned more than 300 monarchs and details of their rule. One of Sabk Nefro important achievements is the completion of the construction of the pyramid of her father in the Hawara region and building a pyramid for her near the Dahshur region.

Queen "Arsenoy II" was born in 316 BC and died in 270 BC, she held the title of Queen of Macedonia after her marriage to two kings, historical studies indicated that she ruled Egypt alone, and she held the title of "Queen of Upper and Lower Egypt".

Queen "Brinky II" or "Bernika" was born in 280 BC and took over the rule of Egypt alongside her son, succeeding her husband, Ptolemy the Third.

Queen Toseret, the last Queen to rule Egypt in the nineteenth family has come to an end. There is no accurate date for her rule, but it was no more than four years. Historical information about her is few and complicated. 

Queen Nefertari was born in 1300 and died in 1250 BC; she is one of the most famous queens participated with her husband in the rule of the country, her cemetery was discovered in 1904 AD and it is one of the most luxurious and the greatest tombs in the valley of the Queens.

Social life

Drawings and papyri (the papers made from the papyrus plant used by the ancient Egyptians to document marriage, divorce, deeds, etc.) reveal some aspects of family life because of their great value in ancient Egyptian civilization.

In those papyri, polygamy was presented with the "pharaohs" kings in different eras and spread among the public and even priests, but to a lesser extent and restricted by the consent of the first wife.  The wives lived together in the same home but the first wife had all rights.

Society encouraged marriage and rejected relations outside its framework. In one of the papyri, one of the sages of the ancient state, “Ptah -hotep,” says to his son, “If you become a rational, establish yourself a home.” You also find these recommendations in the modern state when its sage says and is called “Ani” when he advises his son, "O my son, take a wife for yourself and you are a young man to give her a son."

As we previously said that the new ruler inherits all the property of the king, even women, and this is what falls under the category of regarding women as private property. We also find this by reading the will that the wise advised "Ptah -hotep" as he urges men to treat their wives well as he tells the youth to marry "love your wife inside your house ... give food to her and dress her ... happiest her heart throughout your life she is a fruitful field for her owner ... do not frequently issue orders to your wife in her home if you know that she is good. But watch her work in silence".  We conclude from the will two parts, the first is the mistreatment of women, which must have been prevalent at that time, and the second is there was the dominance of men over women.

As for the terms of the marriage contract and the issue of divorce, the first known document dating back to the late fourth century BC, specifically in the year 590 BC, reveals that marriage took place with the consent of both parties while preserving the rights of the wife even in the divorce, and it came in the papyrus.  “God linked us with the bond of sacred marriage, and I knew that you chose me with your freedom, and agreed to me with your full will, and you will be in my house the free lady and I will not neglect you and abandon you or overtake you, and if we are able to separate, I will give you all your right.”

The marriage was contracted by a priest along with the presence of a number of witnesses, and to complete the marriage, a certain dowry was required for the woman, usually silver and wheat. If he divorced her arbitrarily or married other women he must give his first wife all her rights. So the divorce and termination of marriage were primarily a man's right, but there were cases in which a woman can ask for a divorce, but in that case, half of the dowry was returned to him, and she waived her right to his property.

The wife had the right to file a complaint if her husband offended her, and he had to pledge to witnesses not to harm her verbally or physically, and conditions were set by the wife not to repeat the damage again.

As for the women who commit treason, they were severely despised by their husbands and society, and in this way, the husbands could deprive them of all their rights and sometimes they killed their wives like what is now prevalent under the pretext of "honor crime".

The caste system, the dark face of ancient Egypt

With the decline in the role of women and the spread of the caste system, a distinction is made between women on the basis of their social classes where free foreign women are treated at the same level as free Egyptian women, but foreign women who are brought in as captives have no respect and are treated as slaves working in the lands of the feudal lords, and in temples as slaves and property subject to Egyptian men who own land, and they are exploited as cheap labor. As for those who enjoy the beauty, they are marketed to the King's Palace as neighbors and dancers.

In terms of education, girls did not enjoy education as well as boys if princesses and upper-class girls were excluded; however, there is no historical evidence for this.

The slave system was present in the Egyptian civilization and slaves were mostly traded with women, so the slaves were sold, bought, and rented.

As for FGM, which is known to have come from Egypt, it was widely practiced five thousand years ago, as an examination of mummified bodies.

 It was also common for underage marriage, and as we mentioned earlier, society attached great importance to the family and demanded that young people marry at puberty; the marriage age was at the age of 15 years for boys and less than that for girls.

Tomorrow: Egyptian women in post-pharaoh civilizations