ARCH0750 Spring17 S01 Women in the Ancient Mediterranean World

ARCH0750 Spring17 S01 Women in the Ancient Mediterranean World

ARCH 0750: Women in the Ancient Mediterranean World

Spring 2017

T 10:00-10:50 pm

Rhode Island Hall 108


Instructor: Margaret M. Andrews

Office: Rhode Island Hall 214 [Office Hours: Mon 12-2 PM]



Women represent half of humanity, but they have been greatly underrepresented in studies of past cultures and societies. This course provides an introduction to aspects of women’s lives in the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean: primarily Greece and Rome, but drawing occasionally on examples also from the Near East and Egypt. We will examine not only what women actually did and did not do in these societies, but also how they were perceived by their male contemporaries and what value to society they were believed to have. The course will focus on how women are reflected in the material and visual cultures, but it will also incorporate historical and literary evidence, as well. Through such a comparative and interdisciplinary approach, we will examine the complexities and ambiguities of women’s lives in the ancient Mediterranean and begin to understand the roots of modern conceptions and perceptions of women in the Western world today.



By the end of the semester, students will be familiar with the various aspects of women’s lives in the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean (civic, religious, social, economic). They will gain experience in comparing the value systems of different past societies and analyzing the various and often conflicting types of evidence that we have for them.



The class will meet for three sessions each week. These meetings will be a combination of instructor lecture and class conversation drawn from the readings assigned for each class. The third meeting of each week will usually involve a student-led focused analysis of a particular archaeological or literary case-study relevant to that week’s topic. The course will make significant use of visual material, relying heavily on images of ancient objects, art, and site. The course will have a midterm exam and a final exam that will both draw from the lecture material and address more thematic, historical issues discussed throughout the semester course. There will be two short writing assignments and one in-class presentation/report delivered as part of a group presentation on a chosen topic. Each student will also create and maintain (weekly) a fake social media page for a chosen ancient female figure.



Over 14 weeks, students are expected to spend a total of approximately 180 hours working on this course. They will spend 3 hours per week in class (42 hours). Course reading, and taking notes on that reading, is expected to take 6 hours per week (84 hours). The social-media project should take ca. 6 hours over the course of the semester. The two written projects should take ca. 12 hours for each one (24 hours). Exam preparation for the two exams is expected to require approximately 10 hours per exam (20 hours).



Attendance and Participation in Discussion: 5%

In-class Report (Presentation/Write-up): 25%

Social Media Project: 15%

Ancient Women in Film Report: 15% 

Midterm Exam: 20%

Final Exam: 20%






Week 1: Introduction to the Course and to Gender Ancient Studies

W - 1/25: Introduction to the course

F - 1/27: Historical Overview: Gender Theory and Feminist Movements


Week 2: Introduction to the Ancient Mediterranean

M - 1/30: Historical Overview: The Ancient World

W - 2/1: How do we understand ancient women? 

  • L. Foxhall, Studying Gender in Classical Antiquity, Ch. 1, 1-23.
  • M. Conkey and J. Spector, "Archaeology and the Study of Gender" (1984)

F - 2/3: Approaching Women through the Material Record

  • S. Dixon, "How do you count them if they're not there?" (2001), 7-17.
  • Liston, “Reading the Bones: Interpreting the Skeletal Evidence for Women's Lives in Ancient Greece” in Companion to Women in the Ancient World (2012), 125-40.
  • P. Allison, “Characterizing Roman Artifacts to Investigate Gendered Practices in Contexts Without Sexed Bodies,” AJA 119 (2015), 103-23.


Week 3: Perceptions of Women and Social Ideals

M - 2/6: The Nature of Women

  • H. Parker, "Women and Medicine," in A Companion to Women in the Ancient World, 107-124.
  • Foxhall, Studying Gender in Classical Antiquity, "The Body,"

W - 2/8: Women as Wives

  • E. D'Ambra, Roman Women, "Marriage and the Family" (71-88)
  • Foxhall, Studying Gender in Classical Antiquity, "Households" (24-44)
  • J. Robson, Sex and Sexuality in Classical Athens, "Marriage and Domestic Life" (3-35)

F - 2/10: REPORT: Marriage Rituals

**Begin social media page for chosen female figure**


Week 4: Family and Household

M - 2/13 : Motherhood

  • J. Laskaris, “Nursing Mothers in Greek and Roman Medicine,” AJA 112 (2008), 459-64.
  • C. Patterson, "Not Worth the Rearing: The Causes of Infant Exposure in Ancient Greece" TAPA 115 (1985): 103-23.

W - 2/15: Childhood

  • L. Caldwell, Roman Girlhood and the Fashioning of Femininity, Ch. 1 (15-44)
  • F. Dolansky, "Playing with Gender: Girls, Dolls, and Adult Ideals in the Roman World" (2012): 256-292

F - 2/17: REPORT: Wives and Children on Tombstones


Week 5: Women's Spaces: “Public” and “Private” 

M - 2/20: NO CLASS

W - 2/22: Women Inside the House

  • M. Trumper, “Gender and Space, Public and Private,” in A Companion to Women in the Ancient World (2012), 288-303.
  • C. Antonaccio, "Architecture and Behavior: Building Gender into Greek Houses," The Classical World 93 (2000): 517-533

F - 2/24: Women Outside the House

  • L. Nevett, "Towards a Female Topography of the Ancient Greek City" in Gender and the City before Modernity, 86-106.
  • C. Taylor, "Women's Social Networks and Female Friendship in the Ancient Greek City," in Gender and the City before Modernity, 213-30.


Week 6: Religion

M - 2/27: Women's Religious Roles

  • L. Foxhall, "Religion", in Studying Gender in Classical Antiquity
  • E. D'Ambra, Roman Women, "Public Life" (166-180)

W - 3/1: Female Cults

  • E. Stehle, "Thesmophoria and Eleusinian Mysteries: The Fascination of Women's Secret Ritual," in Finding Persephone: Women's Rituals in the Ancient Mediterranean (2007), 165-185.
  • C. Schultz, "Modern Prejudice and Ancient Praxis: The Cult of Hercules in Rome." 

F - 3/3: REPORT: The Vestal Virgins

  • M. Beard, “The Sexual Status of Vestal Virgins” in Journal of Roman Studies 70 (1980), 12-27 
  • M. Beard, “Rereading (Vestal) Virginity” in Women in Antiquity: New Assessments (2002), 166-177.


Week 7: Extra-Marital Sexual Relations

M - 3/6: Adultery and Rape

  • D. Ogden, "Rape, adultery, and protection of bloodlines in classical Athens," in Rape in Antiquity (1997), 25-41.
  • J. Arieti, "Rape and Livy's View of Roman History," in Rape in Antiquity (1997), 209-30.
  • J. Roy, "An Alternative Morality for Classical Athenians, Greece & Rome 44 (1997), 11-22.

W - 3/8: Prostitution

  • E. Cohen, "Free and Unfree Sexual Work: An Economic Analysis of Athenian Prostitution," in Prostitutes and Courtesans in the Ancient World (2006), 95-124.
  • A. Strong, Prostitutes and Matrons in the Roman World, "Prostitutes and Matrons in the Urban Landscape, " 142-170

F - 3/10: REPORT: The Archaeology of Prostitution

  • T. McGinn, "Pompeiian Brothels and Social History, Journal of Roman Archaeology 2002, 7-46
  • J. Baird, “On Reading the Material Culture of Ancient Sexual Labor” Helios 42: 163-75.


Week 8: Women’s Work


W - 3/15: Textile Production

  • L. Foxhall, "Weaving Relationships in Areas of Cultural Contact: production, use, and consumption of loom weights in Pre-Roman Sicily"
  • L. Loven, "Lanam Fecit: Woolworking and Female Virtue" (1998), 85-95
  • R. Saller, "Household and Gender" in The Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World (2007), 87-112.

F - 3/17: Women in Commerce

  • R. Van Breman, "Women and Wealth," in Images of Women in Antiquity (1993), 223-42.
  • M. Groen-Villila “Desperate Housewives? The Adaptive Family Economy and Female Participation in the Roman Urban Labor Market,” in Women and the Roman City in the Latin West (2015), 295-312.
  • L. Foxhall, Studying Gender in Classical Antiquity, "Wealth" (90-113)


Week 9: Civic and Political Activities

M - 3/20: Women as Patrons

  • E. Hemelrijk, “Female munificence in the cities of the Latin West,” in Women and the Roman City of the Latin West (2015), 65-84.
  • E. Hemelrijk, "Patronesses and 'Mothers' of Roman Collegia," Classical Antiquity 27 (2008), 115-162.
  • S. Dixon, "Profits and Patronage," in Reading Roman Women (2001), 89-112.

W - 3/22: Women as Powerholders

  • Lefkowitz, "Influential Women" in Images of Women in Antiquity, 49-64 
  • S. Fischler, "Social Stereotypes and Historical Analysis: The Case of the Imperial Women at Rome," in Women in Ancient Societies (1994), 115-133.

 F - 3/24: REPORT: "Nasty Women" of Antiquity




Week 11: Visual Presentation and Representation

M - 4/3: Women's Clothing and Adornment

  • M. Wyke, "Woman in the Mirror: The Rhetoric of Adornment in the Roman World," in Women in Ancient Societies (1994), 134-151.

W - 4/5: Representing Women in Public

  • E. D'Ambra, "Nudity and Adornment in the Female Portrait Sculpture of the Second Century AD", in I, Claudia II: Women in Roman Art and Society, ed. D. Kleiner and S. Matheson (2000), 101-114 [PDF]
  • M. Boudreau Flory, "Sic Exempla Parantur: Livia's Shrine to Concordia and the Porticus Liviae" Historia 33 (1984): 309-330 
  • N. Salomon, "Constructing a World of Difference: Gender, Asymmetry, and the Greek Nude," in Naked Truths: Women, Sexuality, and Gender in Classical Art and Archaeology, 197-219

 F - 4/7: NO CLASS


Week 12 (11/29): Agency and Anxieties

M - 4/10: Public Ideology

  • T. McGinn, "Lex Julia et Papia" in Prostitution, Sexuality, and the Law in Ancient Rome (1998), 70-104
  • P. Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus (1988) 156-66.

W - 4/12: Individual Control

  • L. Dossey, "Wife Beating and Manliness in Late Antiquity" Past and Present 199 (2008): 3-40 
  • L. Llewellyn-Jones, "Domestic Violence and Violence against Women in Ancient Greece," in Sociable Man: Essays in Social History (2011), 231-266

F - 4/14: REPORT: Aristophanes' Lysistrata

  • Aristophanes, Lysistrata


Week 13: Women in Late Antiquity

M - 4/17: New Paths of Influence

  • G. Clark, Women in Late Antiquity, Ch. 4 (94-118)

**Ancient Women in Film Report Due - 4/17 by 11:59 pm**

W - 4/19: Christian Perceptions

  • Acts of Perpetua and Felicitas
  • Acts of Paul and Thecla
  • J. Hultin, "A New Web for Arachne and a New Veil for the Temple"
  • O. Lehtipuu"The Examples of Paul and Tecla: Disputing Women's Role in Early Christianity"
  • A. Cameron, "Early Christianity and the Discourse of Female Desire," in Women in Ancient Society (1994), 152-168.

F - 4/21: REPORT: Christian Virginity


Week 14: Modern Perceptions of Ancient Women

M - 4/24: Concluding Thoughts

W - 4/26: FINAL EXAM






Course Summary:

Date Details Due