1st Edition

Becoming a Woman and Mother in Greco-Roman Egypt Women’s Bodies, Society and Domestic Space

By Ada Nifosi Copyright 2019
    286 Pages
    by Routledge

    286 Pages
    by Routledge

    How did Greco-Roman Egyptian society perceive women’s bodies and how did it acknowledge women’s reproductive functions? Detailing women’s lives in Greco-Roman Egypt this monograph examines understudied aspects of women's lives such as their coming of age, social and religious taboos of menstruation and birth rituals. It investigates medical, legal and religious aspects of women's reproduction, using both historical and archaeological sources, and shows how the social status of women and new-born children changed from the Dynastic to the Greco-Roman period.

    Through a comparative and interdisciplinary study of the historical sources, papyri, artefacts and archaeological evidence, Becoming a Woman and Mother in Greco-Roman Egypt shows how Greek, Roman, Jewish and Near Eastern cultures impacted on the social perception of female puberty, childbirth and menstruation in Greco-Roman Egypt from the 3rd century B.C. to the 3rd century A.D.

    Introduction; 1. Women’s social status in Greco-Roman Egypt; 2. The role of midwives in Dynastic and Greco-Roman Egypt; 3. Childbirth and domestic cults in Greco-Roman Egypt; 4. The liminal status of the unborn and the newborn child in Greco-Roman Egypt; 5. Pollution and purification in women’s reproduction; 6. Childbirth, menstruation and domestic space in Greco-Roman Egypt; 7. Conclusions


    Ada Nifosi gained a BA in Classical Archaeology at the University of Padua, Italy, and an MA and MPhil in Egyptian Archaeology at the University of Bologna, Italy. She was awarded her PhD at the University of Kent, UK, where she is now a Lecturer in Ancient History.

    "Through the discussion of an impressive range of evidence, Ada Nifosi sheds new light on everyday lives of women in Egypt from the Pharaonic to the Greco-Roman period. The author focuses her attention on many aspects of women’s functions in society, from childbirth and reproduction to professions and the administration of family wealth; a vital part not only of their households but also of village and city communities, women played a significant role in the shaping of the multicultural society of Egypt. Becoming a Woman and Mother in Greco-Roman Egypt is an important reading for anyone interested in gender and women studies and social history of ancient Egypt."

    - Roberta Mazza, The University of Manchester, UK