The Bioarchaeology of women in Greek antiquity

Authored by: Sherry C. Fox

Women in Antiquity

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  August  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138808362
eBook ISBN: 9781315621425
Adobe ISBN: 9781317219910

10.4324/9781315621425.ch45

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Abstract

What we know about how women lived in Greek antiquity is primarily from what has been preserved in both ancient texts and art. Although we are fortunate to have this rich evidence, a more comprehensive understanding of women in ancient Greece can be gained from inclusion of the study of their skeletal remains from archaeological contexts. This chapter, while not a comprehensive overview, aims to demonstrate how women lived in Greek antiquity by the contextual examination of their human skeletal remains. The burial practices, including cremation burials and the longstanding practice of secondary burials in the Aegean, have placed limitations on some aspects of bioarchaeological analyses. Due, in part, to these burial practices in conjunction with environmental conditions that are not conducive to bone preservation, human skeletal remains are often commingled, incomplete, and poorly preserved from the region (Angel 1945; Fox 2005; Harper and Fox 2009). Fortunately, a great deal of recent research in Greek bioarchaeology is adding to the picture of how women lived in the past. It should be noted that although there were similarities in the lifeways of women between various regions, regional differences in culture certainly existed in the past in the geographical area of modern Greece and, as such, the conclusions that are drawn are not to be considered pan-Hellenic in nature.

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