Dr. Shelby Justl is a lecturer in the Critical Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania. She has an M.A. with distinction in Egyptology from the University of Liverpool and a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Pennsylvania. Her doctoral research concentrated on the administration and control of the ancient Egyptian semiprecious stone industry. Her current research is on ancient Egyptian bees, beekeeping, and honey. Dr. Shelby has participated in several University of Pennsylvania expeditions to Abydos, Egypt, and has published her research and translation of an unearthed ostracon (an artifact with ancient writing) in the Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XXV, October 8 & 9, 2022
The Real Housewives of Ancient Egypt
“Instructing a woman is like owning a sack of sand with a split in the side.” “Let your wife see your wealth but don’t trust her with it.” Such ancient Egyptian quotes reveal some attitudes towards women in ancient Egypt, but the actual reality of women in ancient Egypt is much more complex. Unlike most women in other contemporary ancient societies, they had political and economic rights making them fairly liberated. Women could escape bad marriages by divorcing and remarrying, they were entitled to one third of their husband’s property upon divorce, and they could disown their disobedient adult children! This lecture explores ancient Egyptian women’s many roles of goddess, pharaoh, priestess, landowner, business owner, mother, wife, prostitute, and slave. Together we will examine ancient Egyptian letters, love poetry, fictional tales, and court documents, alongside the iconography in women’s tombs and artifacts, including statuary, stelae, and jewelry. These will reveal gender stereotypes, ideals, identity, the social conditions of women, and interpretations of ancient sexuality.