The aim of this book is to track a distinct human phenomenon in the history of the ancient Near East: persons who were born males, but under various social and historical circumstances their masculine identity was considered to be ambiguous. On the basis of this, these persons can be classified as belonging to a third gender They bore specific titles, and were engaged in cult or palace administration. The contexts of their documentation occasionally depict them as possessing or exhibiting traits that were uncharacteristic of the standard social expectations of men in Mesopotamia. The terms that describe these persons were grouped in numerous lexical lists, which supply us with the frame and boundaries of the present research. To a lesser extent, the grouping of these persons is apparent in narrative and literary compositions. The most notable of these titles were gala/kalû, assinnu, kurgarrû and lú-sag / ša rēši. Other similar titles that were documented less frequently were kulu’u, girseqû,tīru, SAG-UR-SAG, pilpilû, nāš pilaqqi, sinnišānu and parû. Their sexual and gender ambiguity was realized in numerous and diverse manners. Continue reading Ilan Peled: Masculinities and Third Gender
Near Eastern Archaeology, special issue, Volume 79, Issue 3, september 20161
- Jane Peterson: Woman’s Share in Neolithic Society: A View from the Southern Levant
Early farming groups set into motion substantial, even revolutionary, socioeconomic changes dur- ing the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (ca. 10,500– 6,000 cal. b.c.e.) in the southern Levant of South- west Asia. Social organizational structures capable of addressing new opportunities and challenges would have been integral… ☛
- Maria Mina: Was It a Man’s World? Gender Relationships at the Transition to the Bronze Age in Cyprus
This article examines whether the apparently equitable gender relationships of the Chalcolithic period in Cyprus were replaced by gender in- equality in the Bronze Age. The discussion critiques the axioms … ☛
Masculinities studies is an interdisciplinary field that seeks to analyse how being or becoming a man was constructed, performed and represented in specific social contexts, both modern as well as ancient. Although it is far easier to study masculinities in modern periods –due, no less, to the fact that we have not only manuals detailing how to perform gender in accordance with societal norms, but also to the fact that we can interview people about what it means to them to be or become masculine-we cannot have this type of access to ancient man. Nevertheless, in the absence of direct documentation or manuals that describe how society expected men to behave, we have to turn to other sources, like the Bible and the annalistic inscriptions and palace relief programmes of Mesopotamian kings, to study how masculinities were constructed in ancient history.
In this talk, I will first be discussing what we mean by the social construction of masculinities, and then look at individual case studies based on our ancient source material to show that masculinity has never only been an essential, monolithic and stable substance conferred by nature through male hormones, but rather the continuous process of gender configuration and reconfiguration that not only makes masculinity differ across time and space, but an aspect of identity that may change even thorough the course of a man’s (or, indeed, a woman’s) lifetime. Continue reading Masculinities and the Ancient Near East