Women in Mycenaean Greece: The Linear B Textual Evidence
The Linear B script, inscribed on clay tablets recording the movement of commodities and people within the palaces of Mycenaean Greece (ca. 1700–1150 BCE), offers Classical scholarship a wealth of information regarding the linguistic, economic, religious, and social developments of early Greece. Yet the study of women in Mycenaean Greece has only recently arisen as an area of interest. While the Linear B texts present issues regarding archaeological context and translational difficulties, they nevertheless reveal much about three general classes of women: lower-class peasants, religious officials, and aristocratic women. This paper analyzes how these classes of women are presented on the Linear B tablets and identifies both gender roles between men and women, and hierarchal distinctions amongst women themselves. This leads to conclusions not necessarily representative of Mycenaean society as a whole, but rather that point towards different roles for women specifically in Mycenaean palatial economies.
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