The Role of Scribes in Ancient Civilizations Essay

The Role of Scribes in Ancient Civilizations Essay

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From the early Bronze Age (3500 BCE) to near the end of the Iron Age (0AD), civilizations appeared and then slowly dissolved. In all of these civilizations there was one class in common, the scribe, someone who can read and write. Scribes played a pivotal role in ancient civilizations, they were the reason we advanced throughout those ages, and against general belief, some of these scribes were women.
The scribal class in Mesopotamia emerged roughly around the early second millennium BC, when formal schooling emerged. It has been suggested that this may be accounted for by the development of large scale agriculture. The ability to record and manage wages and rations, register land titles and plot out lands, crop payments, and many other transactions were necessary for this growing civilization. The men and women who completed these tasks held strong strategic positions due to their ability to take words and record them. They served multiple functions, such as a secretary, royal counselor, commercial correspondent, poet and scholar. These educated citizens were likened to those of the clergy in medieval Europe, as they both were literate and held a key role in societies.
Women in the Babylonian time were literate, and were very active in the community business life. However the existence of women scribes has very little evidence, the only evidence comes from the tablet fragments from Sippar. Sippar is located on the east bank of Euphrates River. While there are many references to daughters of scribes being able to become scribes, no definite evidence has been discovered that women attended the scribe schools. Nonetheless, the evidence that women could read and write does indicate that they had some education or formal training...


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Marsman, Hennie J. Women in Ugarit and Israel: Their Social and Religious Position in the Context of the Ancient Near East. Leiden: Brill, 2003. Print.
McAuslan, Ian, and Peter Walcot. Women in Antiquity. Oxford: Oxford UP on Behalf of the Classical Association, 1996. Print.
Taylor, Insup, and M. Martin Taylor. Writing and Literacy in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub., 1995. Print.
Williams, Ronald J. “Scribal Training in Ancient Egypt.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 92.2 (1972): 214-21. JSTOR. Web. 15 Nov. 2010.
"Gender Difference in History Women in China and Japan - Womeninworldhistory.com -." Women In World History Curriculum. Womeninworldhistory.com, n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2014.
"Scribes in Ancient Egypt." Ancient Egyptian Society: The Scribe. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2014. .

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