UCLA Center for the Study of Women
The Importance of Gender Studies for Predynastic Egypt: A Case Study of Cemetery N7000 at Naga-ed-Deir
- Author(s): Lords, Krystal
- et al.
In the study of ancient cultures, gender issues are often ignored. Although Egyptology generally follows this trend, several publications have examined the status and role of women in Dynastic Egypt, concluding that Egyptian women were unusually powerful and independent in comparison to other contemporary cultures. These Dynastic gender analyses are primarily based upon evidence from artistic and textual sources. Because of the lack of this type of evidence from earlier periods, Predynastic Egypt is often overlooked or studied only for data concerning patterns of state formation and the rise of social complexity. Scholars sometimes briefly note that Predynastic women were even more powerful than their Dynastic successors, with the explanation that Egypt was a matriarchal civilization before state formation, but without providing any concrete evidence. The application of gender theories to Predynastic Egypt is insightful, not only because the results add pertinent information to ongoing discussions, but also because the focus is shifted to the Egyptian as an individual. I propose applying gender studies to the Egyptian Predynastic Period, beginning with a case study at Cemetery N7000 of Naga-ed-Deir, where the skeletal remains and associated artifacts are excellently preserved. While the great disparity in burial goods at the site has been previously discussed, the strong patterns concerning the placement of certain objects according to the biological sex of the individual have yet to be recognized. Investigating these patterns, and others like them, is the first of many steps toward gaining an increased understanding of the Predynastic Egyptians through the essential adoption of gender studies.