Dier El-Medina Study Notes

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Notes - Dier el-Medina from "Societies From The Past"


o The position of women in the New Kingdom must be pieced together from a variety of sources ranging from scenes from their husbands' tombs to references in writings such as the "Instructions" which encouraged 'correct' womanly behaviour.

o As children, girls did not receive the same education as their brothers. Most women couldn't read or write.

o Their rank in society was that of their father or husband.

o Large families were the ideal and marriage was mainly for reproduction.

o The average for a female to marry was 13.

o Marriage was a legal matter and both re-marriage and divorce was common.

o If a man divorced his wife for any reason but adultery he had to pay her approx. 1/3 of their property, and if a woman divorced her husband for any reason but adultery she had to pay him some compensation.

o Both sexes shared many legal rights. Women could initiate marriage or divorce, own and dispose of property, and often inherited the same share as their brothers.

o Generally women supervised their home; however they also performed outside work. These included: female priests or priestesses, professional mourners, singers, dancers, nurses, minor court officials, doctors, workshop weavers, washerwomen, bakers and millers. Poorer women often worked in the fields or were household servants.

o Literature often reminds men to behave carefully around unknown women but also honours the role of mothers and competent housewives.


o Most evidence gained of the workers' lives is from relief scenes in nobles' tombs. The noble is usually emphasising his official role and thus his own importance, by depicting himself 'inspecting' various agricultural work and workshops on his own estates or those of the king or at temples, particularly those of...