Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tablet Project

For my clay tablet, I tried to re-create this picture, which shows the evolution of various cunieform symbols over time and in different languages

This is a photo of my tablet, sorry for the quality but I had to use my web cam to take it

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Excavation Project Update

                 In researching my topic for our Excavation Project, I had to do a lot of background research on Nefertiti before I could begin to look more in depth into her life and the search for artifacts surrounding her. While there are many sources online and in print about her life and the famous bust, I had to narrow those down to what would actually be useful to my study.
                  One good source I found is a website that spans much of the history of her actual life and the archaeological record that pertains to her. Nefertiti was the wife of the Pharaoh Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV) and was known around the ancient world as a beautiful woman. She also seemingly had more influence over the kingdom than previous queens as she is depicted in artwork as having almost as much influence as her husband.  Together they shared a special bond and she was the Chief Royal wife. In one eulogy, she is proclaimed as
And the Heiress, Great in the Palace, Fair of Face, Adorned with the Double Plumes, Mistress of Happiness, Endowed with Favors, at hearing whose voice the King rejoices, the Chief Wife of the King, his beloved, the Lady of the Two Lands, Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti, May she live for Ever and Always
There is also a great deal of mystery surrounding Nefertiti, including her apparent disappearance from historical records towards the end of Akhenaten’s reign. There has also been many quests to find her mummy, most of which have yielded little to no concrete evidence. That coupled with the everlasting fascination surrounding her famous bust will guarantee that Nefertiti will be a topic of interest for many years to come. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Digging up Deborah

Digging up Deborah presents an interesting view on Old Testament’s women and the role they might have played in everyday life. It can be difficult to place women into a real context when reading the Old Testament. Many scholars have tried to analyze how the Bible relates to real women in ancient Israel. Two authors, Bird and Trible give us two ways of looking at scholarship. Trible focus’s on how stories in the Bible reflect women’s roles and lives, as opposed to Bird who asks what we can learn from the texts about women’s actual lives.
The are three methods for understanding Tible’s work. The first is to be concerned with the received text of the Hebrew Bible, especially Genesis, Exodus, Judges, Samuel and Kings. The second is to focus on women as characters an sometimes focus on women as readers and on the gender bias presented in the Bible. The third is to attempt to interoperate the women characters of the text as we have received it through the analysis of literary structure, grammar, syntax, vocabulary and other writing conventions.
The main problem presented in scholarship of women during this time is that there are very few sources that actually contain information directly about women. Many written sources found focus mainly on military records, politics, or commerce, which would likely include little to none information about women. Archaeology in the Iron II period has also yielded little information about women, as it commonly is focused on urban areas and monumental structures such as temples and palaces. These again are areas that wouldn’t contain much information particularly about women. Iron I has been more village centered historically, but never conducted on the basis of gender or women.
One prominent archaeologist, Carol Meyers, has focused on finding evidence for women in the Bible to put them into context. She states that Israelite women had a relatively high status in the culture and had a potential to gain power. The most female characters appear in the book of Judges, followed by Genesis, such as Achsan, Jael, and Deborah among others. Their roles do coincide with evidence that women participated in religious capacities, helping out with military operations and celebrations afterwards. They were also in charge of household matters and daily finances.
Taking the example of Deborah in Judges 4 and 5 we see her portrayed as a prophet and potentially a military commander. In Judges 4, she delivers the message to Barak who then takes the lead in the battle against Sisera. Judges 5, on the other had, has Deborah actually leading troops on the battlefield. But how can we know which is more accurate? Judges 5 was written approximately around 1100 B.C.E., which was roughly around the same time as the battle actually occurred. Two more examples of women’s importance during Iron II include the Queen of Heaven Cult, in which women baked “cakes” or bread as offerings to the goddess. Also women were the primary weavers of cloth, something important for both commerce and everyday life.

This article was very interesting to me because gender as well as history and archaeology is something that I really enjoy studying. I am by no means an expert in that area, but have found myself in the past being drawn to that area of study in many of my classes. Anytime I get to read about this topic I am always interested to learn that much of the time, not much study has actually been completed. The fact that there has never been an archaeological dig done specifically on women surprises me, but also makes sense considering that you can never tell what you might find. It does seem odd that there isn’t more done after evidence is found at a site that relates to gender that it is not investigated further.