Ancient cultures in which women were equal to men

Whom does your imagination draw when it comes to women of yesteryear? A humble princess waiting for the prince in her tower, a handicraft keeper of the hearth, or perhaps a submissive and humble wife and mother?

We often hear about patriarchal foundations in earlier times and are accustomed to believe that until the 20th century, women were content exclusively with the role of mother and wife.

Blogger, feminist and author Colady Julia Klyukvina undertook to refute this stereotype and conduct a short historical excursion.

More than just home keepers: ancient cultures in which women were on a par with men
Photo @keiracknightleys

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Egypt can be safely considered one of the most developed ancient civilizations: women there had the same rights as men and could make deals, get an education and even make a career as a scribe. In some areas, the woman had some advantages: for example, in the event of a divorce, the children remained with the mother, and during inheritance, the land passed through the female line.

Curious fact: formally, after marriage, the Egyptian woman received greater freedom in rights than before, since marriage allowed her to be freed from parental care. It is also interesting that the female goddesses play an important role in the pantheon of ancient Egyptian gods: Bastet, Isis, Hathor, Maat, Nut, Nephthys.

As a rule, the distribution of functions between the gods of different sexes and their position in the pantheon reflected the position of women in one or another ancient society. Thus, matriarchal cultures were characterized by the primacy of the mother goddess (for example, the settlement of Chatal-Huyuk and the cult of the mother goddess).

More than just home keepers: ancient cultures in which women were on a par with men
Photo @ancientegyptianblog

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You may be surprised, but in the harsh Sparta, the role of women was very high. Unlike other ancient Greek policies, women there could receive an education, knew how to handle weapons (although they did not fight directly in battles), took part in sports and were even involved in political discussions.

Spartan women were completely independent in the legal and moral sense: they had the right to own property and dispose of property at their discretion, and thanks to the opportunity to receive education, they had a broad outlook. This was partly due to collective thinking in Sparta: a woman there was not someone’s property, but a full-fledged citizen and a member of society.

Spartan women also looked very unusual for their time: they wore rather short, similar to men’s clothing with a deep cut on the side, which is why in other policies they were considered dissolute and condemned. Shortly before the wedding, a resident of Sparta was supposed to shave her bald head, and cut her hair short throughout the marriage. This is the kind of Spartan feminism.

More than just home keepers: ancient cultures in which women were on a par with men
Photo @hellocinemaforensic


For a long time it was believed that the warlike Valkyries were just an element of Scandinavian mythology that had nothing to do with reality. However, in the 19th century, a sensational find was made – the burial of a high-ranking warrior who turned out to be … a woman.

Women among the Vikings had many rights and opportunities. Girls could choose their husbands, the dowry remained in their property, the girls had the right to divorce, and they also had a patronymic – being tied to their father’s house, an indication that she did not become the “property” of her husband, as in many other cultures.

The authority of the wife in the house of her husband was quite high: they listened to the opinion of women, because in fact everything that was connected with a settled life, the house and the economy was in the hands of the wives.

More than just home keepers: ancient cultures in which women were on a par with men
Photo @historyvikings


The Celts are a people ahead of their time in many ways. In addition to possessing advanced weapons and practicing hygiene, Celtic women had considerable rights and were virtually equal to men.

A girl in the Celtic tribes could own property (which, after marriage, remained with her, and did not leave her husband) and be a farmer, or become a healer, poetess, judge, ambassador and even a druid, in a word, take a high and respected position in society and fully realize yourself.

Calling Celtic women the weaker sex will not turn your tongue – they fought on an equal footing with men and perfectly controlled weapons. Suffice it to recall the example of the belligerent and courageous Boudicca, who revolted against the Romans. By the way, in Celtic folklore, women are often mentioned as strong and independent personalities.

More than just home keepers: ancient cultures in which women were on a par with men
Photo @keiracknightleys


Before the Europeans discovered the New World, who lived in Mesoamerica, the Maya tribes were a very progressive and developed people. And the woman in their culture did not occupy a subordinate position, but an equal position with a man. This is evidenced by numerous drawings and bas-reliefs depicting women who performed important ritual actions.

The Maya believed that like the Sun and the Moon, which cannot exist separately, man and woman complement each other, combine two principles.

For example, at certain astronomical periods, a male ruler temporarily delegated his powers to his wife. However, precedents are known when Mayan women were full-fledged rulers. Unlike other cultures, Maya women’s rights were not constrained by any gender restrictions.

More than just home keepers: ancient cultures in which women were on a par with men
Photo @bendenhikayesi_

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