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ANAHITA  December 1999

ANAHITA December 1999

Subject:

Re: what can be known

From:

Susan Kray <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Women and Gender in the Ancient World <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 27 Dec 1999 20:49:39 EST

Content-Type:

text/plain

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In a message dated 12/27/99 7:20:14 PM US Eastern Standard Time,
[log in to unmask] writes:


>  >>Of course there is no proof that ancient societies that did not leave
> written
>  >>records were patriarchal, either.
>
>  >Sometimes we just have to admit that in the nature of things, there are
>  >things we can never know.
>
>  Sometimes there are, but that conclusion is way too premature on this
> subject.
>
>  There's more information coming down the pike all the time. Feminist
>  scholars have only begun to examine the evidence and to reexamine earlier
>  interpretations of older data. There are tons of books coming out every
>  year, full of new information and reexaminations of older data, on every
>  conceivable subject.
>
>  Gimbutas' last book mentions a study by Lengyel and Zalai-Gaal of archaic
>  burials in Hungary. "The adult females and children were found to have been
>  related by blood group, but the adult males in the same cemetery were found
>  to be unrelated." So in this case we can establish matrilocality
>  (overwhelmingly correlated with matrilineage). Another piece of the puzzle.
>  Pretty soon we will be able to have DNA analysis of ancient graves.


To quote scholar of religion Rita Gross, "We need to know, whenever possible,
what these [religious] activities mean to women, how women explain and
understand what they are doing" (Gross 1996: 81). Of course her comment
applies to other activities as well.  Unless we discover written records, we
will not know what this (possible) matrilocality (and associated
matrilineality, if any) meant to girls and women in the culture. We know that
some things that look on the surface as though mainly women value them, turn
out to be mainly for the convenience of men. If we cannot hear women's voices
or read their words, there is much we will never know. One important
principle of feminist research is that one consults women about their
perceptions and experience, rather than talking about it and for them.
Unfortunately one cannot consult women of the ancient past and if they have
left no words, we are all the more helpless.


Susan Kray

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