Women had power in ancient Greece, but you’d never know…

A very real and interesting example of the ways in which assumptions made by archaeologists determine how they view the evidence. The implications, if anyone ever had time (and the guts) to go back and review the documentary records from previous digs, could be huge.
DNA reveals sister power in Ancient Greece

University of Manchester researchers have revealed how women, as well as men, held positions of power in ancient Greece by right of birth.
Women were thought to have had little power in ancient Greece, unless they married a powerful man and were able to influence him. But a team of researchers testing ancient DNA from a high status, male-dominated cemetery at Mycenae in Greece believe they have identified a brother and sister buried together in a richly endowed grave, suggesting that she had as much power as him.

Professor Brown recalled: We were surprised to discover what appears to be a sister buried beside her brother in the high status, male-dominated grave circle. The implication is that she was buried in Grave Circle B not because of a marital connection but because she held a position of authority by right of birth.

DNA explodes Greek myth about women

British researchers have unearthed evidence that proves Helen was much more than a chattel
Women in Ancient Greece were major power brokers in their own right, researchers have discovered, and often played key roles in running affairs of state. Until now it was thought they were treated little better than servants.
The discovery is part of an investigation by Manchester researchers into the founders of Mycenae, Europe’s first great city-state and capital of King Agamemnon’s domains.
‘It was thought that in those days women were rated as little more than chattels in Ancient Greece,’ said Professor Terry Brown, of the faculty of life sciences at Manchester University. ‘Our work now suggests that notion is wrong.’

The critical point, he said, was that the woman was thought to have been buried in a richly endowed grave because she was the wife of a powerful man. That was in keeping with previous ideas about Ancient Greece – that women had little power and could only exert influence through their husbands.
‘But this discovery shows both the man and the woman were of equal status and had equal power,’ he said. ‘Women in Ancient Greece held positions of power by right of birth, it now appears.
‘The problem has been that up until recently our interpretation of life in Ancient Greece has been the work of a previous generations of archaeologists, then a male-oriented profession and who interpreted their findings in a male-oriented way. That is changing now and women in Ancient Greece are being seen in a new light.’

One thought on “Women had power in ancient Greece, but you’d never know…

  1. “The previous generations of archaeologists” may have got it wrong?! Shock horror! We should be re-examining all ancient and pre history 😉

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