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Shattering the bronze ceiling: women of the Bronze Age6 min read

March 15, 2021 4 min read


Shattering the bronze ceiling: women of the Bronze Age6 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Have you heard of the term patriarchy?

Yup, that’s right. Patriarchy is a social system that gives all societal powers to men rather than women. For decades, women have tried to smash this system. They’ve fought against it and, in many ways, succeeded. Women can now vote, work, and, in many countries, are legally given the same freedoms as men. Globally, not only do several countries have female leaders, but many of those countries are thriving. However, we are still a long way from equal. Women are often paid less for the same amount of work that men do. Moreover, many women are still not allowed to exercise the same freedoms as men, even if they are legally granted the right to do so.

Female heads of countries across the globe. Image: The Guardian

As women continue to work hard at smashing the patriarchy, one question remains on everyone’s mind? How and when did this come about? Well, new discoveries may prove that patriarchy is a much more recent phenomenon than we once thought.

The big clue

The woman was buried in a ceramic pot near the palatial grounds. Image: Livescience

Archaeologists in La Almoya in Murcia, Spain, have found something incredible. It is one of the most lavish burial sites from the early bronze age about 3700 years ago. And, you guessed it! The grave belonged to a woman. Based on the clues that archaeologists have found, they believe that they could have stumbled upon the burial site of a political leader or even the queen of the realm.

The archaeological site at LA Almolaya that holds the clues to the El Argar Civilisation. Image: Livescience
A map of La Almolaya, which is located in southeastern Spain. Image: Livescience

Watch this short video about the Bronze Age to get a better picture of the times and its people:

Owliver’s Obscure Observation: This woman to whom this bejewelled grave belonged was riddled with physical deformities. She had a shortened spine as her vertebrae were fused together as well as a stunted thumb. Archaeologists assume that she died at the age of 20, probably of a disease such as tuberculosis.

What were these clues?

The precious silver and gold earrings or earplugs that she most likely wore in her ears and was later buried with. Image: Livescience
All the precious objects that were found in her grave. Image: Livescience

The archaeologists found a grave of an upper-class couple that belonged to the El Argar civilization. They were both buried with jewels and all sorts of fineries, but the woman’s grave was significantly more lavish.

She had silver armlets, round hollow earrings with hanging gold and other precious objects scattered around her body. Ordinarily, that would mean that she was left the wealth of her husband. But, studies suggest that she died after him. So, he wouldn’t have been alive at the time of her death. Therefore, if the society was patriarchal, it is unlikely that the jewels were given to her and not a male heir or a new husband or ruler.

The Silver Diadem

The Silver Diadem that was found in the woman’s grave in La Almolaya. Image: Livescience

The biggest hint at the royalty of the woman was a silver diadem or hanging crown. It was huge, perfectly crafted, and one of less than half a dozen that have been found. This shining silver headdress that hung from her head would have been sparkly and incredibly daunting. Anyone who stood before her would have been able to see their own reflection in the piece of jewellery that ran from her forehead to the tip of her nose. How intimidating!!

“The look of this woman must have been very powerful, maybe even frightening.”

Dr. Roberto Risch, Archaeologist involved in this project

Her husband, on the other hand, was buried with just a sword and a small number of jewels. Historians believe that this was since he belonged to a group of male warriors who fought to protect the kingdom. Meanwhile, she was the one who made political decisions and held societal power.

Image: GIPHY

If all this is to be believed, there will have to be an entire overhaul of how we viewed early civilization. In the male-dominated world of research and history, it is convenient to believe that men have always held power. However, discoveries such as these challenge modern patriarchy by proving that it is no way a system that is essential to a flourishing civilization.

Think With Owliver:

Do you see patriarchy around you? Do you think it’s justified?
Are there any female political leaders who inspire you?
What have you done lately to smash the patriarchy?

With Excerpts From: Artnet, The New York Times, LiveScience

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