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Female Rights in Ancient Egypt

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There appears to be no distinction between male and female rights in Ancient Egypt. Women had a unique position in comparison to other ancient societies. They could buy, sell and inherit land, the most valuable commodity of Ancient Egypt's slavery-feudal economic system. Women could initiate legal proceedings on their own right, act as witnesses, plaintiffs or defendants. Female rights in Ancient Egypt also included drafting civil contracts such as marriage, divorce and purchasing property. A wife was entitled to one third of the property upon her husband's death, and she could decide the beneficiaries of the other two thirds.As regards to legal status, women were not treated as male property, in sharp contrast to contemporary neighboring societies, including Greece, were women were required to obtain permission from a father, husband or other male to acquire property or be represented in court. A free woman, not having the status of a slave by particular circumstances such as debt, could not be sold or given away.
Ancient Egyptian culture ranked status and privileges according to social position. What we know about female rights in Ancient Egypt is derived from documents pertaining to women of the upper classes. Peasant women often worked as servants to the wealthy. Occupations included wet nurses, midwives, musicians, singers, dancers, domestic duties such as baking, beer preparation and other similar chores. Professional mourners were hired at funerals. It was possible to some degree to rise up in Ancient Egypt social structure, and females of all classes could become priestesses.
Women also enjoyed the status given to their husbands or family relations, and played particular importance in protecting the privileges that came with special titles. Women of the royal family and their attendants held many titles. The pharaoh's principal wife was called "God's Wife" and "Great Royal Wife". The daughters of the pharaoh were never given in exchange for foreign princesses.

Private life of Ancient Egyptian women


No written document has been found so far that gives a hint as to what kind of ceremony was held, if any, when a man and a woman became husband and wife. It is generally believed that a couple simply started living together. Marriage was an important institution, though, and everyone was expected to marry and establish a family. Monogamy was the general rule, with the exception of the royal family, principally to assure dynasty continuity. Female rights in Ancient Egypt included divorce and remarriage. Reasons for divorce were wife's adultery and childlessness, but couples could separate at will.
Pregnancy was very important for Ancient Egypt women, and so was contraception. Doctors (priests) performed all kinds of tests to determine whether a woman was pregnant or not. The earliest recorded pregnancy test comes from an ancient Egyptian medical training papyrus from around 1350 B.C. The woman who thinks she may be pregnant urinates on wheat and barley whole grains/seeds.
“If the barley seeds sprout or grow, it means a male child will be born. If the wheat sprouts and thrives, it means a female child will arrive in a few months. If the barley and wheat grains never sprout and grow when a woman urinates on the grain seeds, the woman is not pregnant and therefore, will not give birth this time around."
Scientists have tested this ancient Egyptian medicinal folklore and found it to be 70 percent accurate. The reason why it works is because the urine of pregnant women contains a high level of estrogen that may help the grains to sprout.
 


A well known method for contracepcion was the use of crocodile dung on the vagina as spermicide.
Ancient Egyptian women are well known for their special care to appearance and beauty. Many cosmetics, perfumes and unguents were invented or first used in Ancient Egypt, although the use of these were not exclusive to the female gender. Good hygiene required shaving body hair, including the head to prevent lice infestation. Tomb paintings of the New Kingdom often depict scenery where elite women are displaying intricately tressed wigs and semitransparent body tight clothes, while dancers and servants appear almost nude.
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