Opportunities Provided by Ancient Egypt's Political System to Women

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McKay Hill and Buckler emphasize the difficult position held by women in Ancient Egyptian society, a position they characterize as a "curious combination of restraint and freedom in a male-oriented society" (23). They note that women possessed considerable rights under the Egyptian law they were able to obtain divorce if they desired it (which, despite the presence of dowry in Egyptian marriage customs, suggests a real distance from the notion of a wife being a husband's property). Likewise women in Ancient Egypt had rights of property ownership and could take part in the commercial sphere. But at the same time, Egypt maintained some attachment to what is clearly an older form of tribal polygamy husbands could take more than one wife (although one maintained a higher status than others), but wives did not have multiple husbands. The question, therefore, of what opportunities were afforded by Ancient Egypt's political system (such as it was) to women should be viewed alongside this prevailing social system. We must note first that the political system of Ancient Egypt was also at the same time a religious system we can understand this when we view the most memorable archeological artifacts from Egypt, the pyramids and mummies, and realize that these were elaborate religious rituals that were conducted according to a belief not only in a specific afterlife, but also a belief in the Pharaoh's near-godlike status. Indeed, the religious reforms conducted during the reign of the

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