6th Experimental Archaeology Conference Poster Abstract – Rebecca Dean

From the 6th Experimental Archaeology Conference, York, 2012.

Women and weapons in ancient Egypt: the functionality of weaponry associated with women in the Dynastic Period

A PDF of this poster (copyright of the author) is available here

Rebecca Dean

Department of Archaeology, University of York, UK

This paper examines experimental archaeology carried out as part of a PhD thesis. The thesis examines weapons used in
ancient Egypt, focussing particularly on those weapons associated with women during the Dynastic Period i.e. c.3100BC – 332BC. The experimental work expands on previous work carried out as part of a master’s thesis focussing on the
effectiveness of the mace, by also examining the axe, dagger and scimitar-like khopesh. Although these weapons appear
throughout the Dynastic Period, they were particularly significant in the 18th Dynasty in the specific forms used in the
experimental archaeology. They were also associated with women both in artistic portrayals and literary sources and made up part of female burial equipment. Therefore the experimental archaeology was designed to test the effectiveness of each of these weapons when employed by a woman, to test the hypothesis that the weapons associated with Egyptian women were functional objects rather than simply votive items as is so often assumed.

The experimental archaeology was carried out with specially commissioned replica weapons based ancient Egyptian examples and using a pig carcass as a human proxy. The results will be presented in this paper, together with photographs and video footage of the experiments themselves. The conclusions will then be presented, along with further questions raised during the process and the potential for future research in this much neglected subject area.


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