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Women could marry who they wanted and divorce those who no longer suited them, could hold what jobs they liked - within limits - and travel at their whim. The earliest creation myths of the culture all emphasize, to greater or lesser degrees, the value of the feminine principle. In the most popular creation myth, the god Atum lights upon the primordial mound in the midst of the swirling waters of chaos and sets about creating the world.

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In some versions of this tale, however, it is the goddess Neith who brings creation and, even where Atum is the central character, the primordial waters are personified as Nu and Naunet, a balance of the male and female principles in harmony which combine for the creative act. Following the creation and beginning of time, women continue to play a pivotal role as evidenced in the equally popular story of Osiris and Isis.

This brother and sister couple were said to have ruled the world that being Egypt after its creation and to have taught human beings the precepts of civilization, the art of agriculture , the proper worship of the gods. Osiris is killed by his jealous brother Set, and it is Isis who brings him back to life, who gives birth to his child Horus and raises him to be king, and who, with her sister Nephthys and other goddesses such as Serket and Neith, helps to restore balance to the land.

The goddess Hathor , sent to earth as the destroyer Sekhmet to punish humans for their transgressions, becomes people's friend and close companion after getting drunk on beer and waking with a more joyful spirit. Tenenet was the goddess of beer, thought to be the drink of the gods, who provided the people with the recipe and oversaw successful brewing. Shay was the goddess of the written word and librarians, Tayet the goddess of weaving, Tefnut the goddess of moisture.

Even the passage of the year was viewed as feminine as personified by Renpet who notched her palm branch to mark the passage of time. The goddess Bastet , one of the most popular in all of Egypt, was a protector of women, of the home, and of women's secrets.

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Egyptian religion honored and elevated the feminine, and so it is hardly surprising that women were important members of the clergy and temple life. There were many "God's Wives" associated with different deities, and initially, in the Middle Kingdom , the God's Wife of Amun was simply one among many. The God's Wife was an honorary title given to a woman originally of any class but later of the upper class who would assist the high priest in ceremonies and tend to the god's statue.

During the New Kingdom period, the most famous of the God's Wives was the female pharaoh Hatshepsut BCE but there were many other women to hold the office before and after her. Women could be scribes and also priests, usually of a cult with a feminine deity. The priests of Isis, for example, were female and male, while cults with a male deity usually had only male priests as in the case of Amun.

The high prestige of the God's Wife of Amun is another example of the balance observed by the ancient Egyptians in that the position of the High Priest of Amun was balanced by an equally powerful female. It must be noted that the designation 'cult' in describing ancient Egyptian religion does not carry the same meaning it does in the modern day.

A cult in ancient Egypt would be the equivalent of a sect in modern religion. It is also important to recognize that there were no religious services as one would observe them in the present. People interacted with their deities most completely at festivals where women regularly played important roles such as the two virgins who would perform The Lamentations of Isis and Nephthys at the festivals of Osiris. Priests maintained the temples and cared for the statue of the god, and the people visited the temple to ask for help on various matters, repay debts, give thanks, and seek counsel on problems, decisions, and dream interpretation.

Dreams were considered portals to the afterlife, planes on which the gods and the dead could communicate with the living; they did not always do so plainly, however. Skilled interpreters were required to understand the symbols in the dream and what they meant. Egyptologist Rosalie David comments on this:. In the Deir el-Medina texts, there are references to 'wise women' and the role they played in predicting future events and their causation.

It has been suggested that such seers may have been a regular aspect of practical religion in the New Kingdom and possibly even earlier. These wise women were adept at interpreting dreams and being able to predict the future. The only extant accounts of dreams and their interpretation come from men, Hor of Sebennytos and Ptolemaios, son of Glaukius, both c.

David continues, "Some temples were reknowned as centres of dream incubation where the petitioner could pass the night in a special building and communicate with the gods or deceased relatives in order to gain insight into the future" The most famous of these was attached to the Temple of Hathor at Dendera where the clergy was largely female. The clergy of ancient Egypt enjoyed great respect and a comfortable living.

History from the Early Dynastic Period in Egypt c. In order to become a priest, one had to first be a scribe, which required years of dedicated study.


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Once a woman became a scribe she could enter the priesthood, go into teaching, or become a physician. Female doctors were highly respected in ancient Egypt, and the medical school in Alexandria was attended by students from many other countries. The Greek physician Agnodice, denied an education in medicine in Athens because of her sex, studied in Egypt c. As the course of study to become a scribe was long and hard, however, not many people - men or women - chose to pursue it.

Women, therefore, were regularly employed as weavers, bakers, brewers, sandal-makers, basket weavers, cooks, waitresses, or as a "Mistress of the House," which today would be an estate owner. When a woman's husband died, or when they divorced, a woman could keep the home and run it as she liked. This aspect of gender equality is almost astounding when one compares it with women's rights over just the past years. A widow living in America in the early 19th century CE, for example, did not have any rights in home ownership and had to depend on a male relative's intercession to keep her home after the death or departure of her husband.

In ancient Egypt, a woman could decide for herself how she would make money and keep her estate in order. Scholar James C. Thompson writes:. There were many ways in which a 'Mistress of the House" could supplement her income. Some had small vegetable gardens. Many made clothing.

One document shows an enterprising woman purchasing a slave for deben. She paid half in clothing and borrowed the rest from her neighbors.

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It is likely the woman expected to be able to repay the loan by renting out the slave. Indeed, we have a receipt showing that one woman received several garments, a bull, and sixteen goats as payment for 27 days work by her slave. Those who could not raise the money on their own sometimes joined with neighbors to buy a slave. Women were often part of such a consortium.

We know that a woman could inherit and operate a large, wealthy estate. A man who owned such an estate would hire a male scribe to manage it and it would seem reasonable that an heiress would do the same thing. We have little evidence of elite women with paying jobs whether full or part time. Especially talented women could also find work as concubines. A concubine was not simply a woman who was used for sex but needed to be accomplished in music , conversation, weaving, sewing, fashion, culture, religion, and the arts. This is not to say, however, that their physical appearance did not matter.

A request for forty concubines from Amenhotep III c. Amenhotep III writes:. Behold, I have sent you Hanya, the commissioner of the archers, with merchandise in order to have beautiful concubines, i. Silver , gold , garments, all sort of precious stones, chairs of ebony, as well as all good things, worth deben.

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Measuring duration, the researchers clocked participants sitting, on average, for As total sedentary time increased, so did early death by any cause, the results indicated. And the same was true for longer sitting stretches. Overall then, participants' risk of death grew in tandem with total sitting time and sitting stretch duration -- no matter their age, sex, race, body mass index or exercise habits. Diabetes: Yet another reason to get out of that chair. Finally, people who frequently sat for more than 90 minutes at a stretch had a nearly two-fold greater risk of death than those who almost always sat for less than 90 minutes at a stretch, he said.

How sedentary behavior impacts our health in negative ways is "unclear and complex," wrote Dr. David A. Alter, an associate professor at the University of Toronto in Ontario, in an editorial published with the study. Alter, who did not contribute to Diaz' research, said some scientists theorize that more sitting leads to reductions in insulin sensitivity, while others believe net calorie expenditures decline as sitting increases.

The study was not designed to reveal why sitting increases the risk of early death, noted Alter, who described the study as "methodologically rigorous," and its findings "robust. Is one minute of exercise all you need? Arguably, he said, the study's most important contribution involved disentangling two sedentary behaviors: total daily sedentary time and uninterrupted sedentary bout duration. Malden, MA: Blackwell, Marchal, Joseph A.

Martin, Dale. Meeks, Wayne A. Mollenkott, Virginia Ramey. Omnigender: A Trans-Religious Approach. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, Ethics of Hope. Translated by Margaret Kohl. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, Paige, Ruth. Ambiguity and Presence of God. London: SCM Press, Pannenberg, Wolfhart.

Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, Plevnik, Joseph, SJ. Pope, Stephen J. Preves, Sharon E.

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Intersex and Identity: The Contested Self. Ramsey, Paul. Roughgarden, Joan. Ruether, Rosemary Radford. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, Salzman, Todd A.