The roles of women in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia were alike because they were both expected to take care of the household and both had a low status compared to men. They were different, however, because women in Egypt had greater opportunities than women in Mesopotamia. Both women in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia were expected to take care of the household. Since agriculture depended on heavy plows, men were responsible for the work on the fields since they were stronger. This left the women at home to take care of the household. Women were also getting pregnant more often which made them even busier with caring for their children.
Also, women in both ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia were expected to prepare the food, clean the house, educate their children, and weave the clothing. All of their jobs were attuned with their roles as mothers. As children, most girls were trained to be a wife and a mother. Women in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia were depended on to take care of the household and care for their children. Women in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia had a much lower status than men. Since men were not needed as much in the household, they were able to get significant and authoritative roles in society.
These positions allowed the men to change their practices and values to benefit themselves and not the women. Women were more depended upon in the household and were not able to attain positions such as these. Women were also not able to join the army, and the first slaves were female prisoners of war. In hammurabi’s Code, there were many written laws that generated gender inequality in Mesopotamia. One of his laws stated that women never had their own identity but were only identified by their father. Fathers had strict control over their daughters and chose their futures. They were also allowed to sell off their daughters to marriage.
Both women from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia were considered inferior and were not respected as highly as men. Women in ancient Egypt had greater opportunities than women in Mesopotamia. Women in ancient Egypt were known as legal equals to men. They were permitted to own property and slaves, unlike women from Mesopotamia. They were also able to manage and sell land, initiate divorces, and sign their own marriage contracts. No woman in Mesopotamia was able to do this. Some royal women in ancient Egypt had political power if they were substitutes for their sons who were too young to rule.
Women were also seen as equal partners with men in paintings and statues, and they were also allowed to become priestesses. In contrast, women in Mesopotamia did not have such opportunities. In Mesopotamia, the law codes enforced organized patriarchal family life. These laws offered women paternalistic protection as long as they did not question the authority of men. A married woman, if caught sleeping with another man besides her husband, would be drowned. These rules, however, did not apply to her husband. Women were also divided into two categories.
One consisted of respectable women who had to be veiled when they were outside of their house because they were under the sexual control and protection of a man. The other category consisted of women who were not respectable and they were prohibited from wearing veils and were punished if they covered their heads. They also replaced the goddess of Mesopotamia as male deities. Women in ancient Egypt had more opportunities than women in Mesopotamia because they were known as legal equals to men and had more rights. The roles of women in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia are alike but differ, as well.
Both women in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia were expected to take care of the household because the men were needed to work on the fields. Both were also inferior to the men because they were needed in the house, which allowed the men to go out and get powerful roles and change values and that benefitted them and not the women. In contrast, ancient Egyptian women differed from Mesopotamian women since they had more opportunities by being permitted to own property and initiated divorce. Women in both of these ancient societies had very alike roles but women in ancient Egypt had more rights. MC