Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Daily Grind: Women's Experience of Bread-Making in Non-elite Households of New Kingdom Egypt
by Lang, Elizabeth, Ph.D., Yale University, 2017, 293; 10633254
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation explores non-elite women in the Amarna Workmen's Village and Deir el-Medina through their day-to-day experiences in making bread in the household. Bread was the most important food for ancient Egyptians, and in addition to fulfilling nutritional requirements, was a literal means of embodying culture and identity. Bread was also a way of defining a household unit, marking those who ate it together as an identifiable group. Such commensal links were often more significant than kin ties in creating household membership. Bread was therefore an essential part of ancient Egyptian life, and the work done by women in the household to process raw grain into this food was equally important.

This dissertation is guided by several research questions: How did ancient women experience the day-to-day work of bread making? What did bread and bread-making mean to the women doing it? How did association with bread structure their identity, and how did it impact the way they organized their work? In order to investigate these questions, an array of archaeological, written, and artistic evidence from ancient Egypt is analyzed, in conjunction with comparative data from ancient and modern societies.

This dissertation will seek to illustrate several points. The first is that women's work in non-elite households was important, skill-based, and is worthy of modern study in order to enhance understanding of the lives of ancient Egyptian women. Second, bread-making, which involved the six phases of spikelet cleaning, pounding, winnowing/sieving, grinding, mixing and proving, and loaf shaping and baking, required large amounts of labor, time, and space. Third, archaeological evidence and comparative study can be used to hypothetically model organization, group hierarchy, identity, and agency of women in the Amarra Workmen's Village and Deir el-Medina.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Manning, Joseph
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology, Middle Eastern history, Womens studies
Keywords: Ancient Egypt, Bread-Making, Food Studies, Household Studies, Non-Elite, Women
Publication Number: 10633254
ISBN: 978-0-355-10546-9
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