Archaeological traces

  • Past Women
  • Archaeological traces
  • The study of space

The study of space

The possible imprisonment of women in a specific part of Greek households, as suggested by some written sources of the classical period, has been the subject of debate among scholars about the house and the family in the polis. The scarcity of archaeological analysis of Greek houses for much of the last century, dominant made the proposal, based on the texts, the existence of a feminine area, the gynoecium, similar to the zenana, the area reserved for women in some areas of India and Pakistan.
In recent decades, increasing the excavations specifically aimed at the analysis of the houses has allowed reframing gendered distribution of domestic space, from an archaeological perspective. Although it has been possible to identify in many cases andron location, the room where the symposium was held, banquet exclusively male, failed to identify any clear example of gynoecium. Lisa Nevett proposes to understand this asymmetry in sexual identification of domestic space, ethnographic analogy, referring to Islamic houses of North Africa. As was the case in ancient Greece, in the Islamic world women should stay away from men who do not belong to your family. Architecturally, this need not translate into the existence of female-specific areas but in the creation of areas receiving visitors where the householder can receive your guests need not enter the main part of the house where women move freely. In view Nevett, something similar could happen in Greek houses, where the andron could act as reception of men outside the family, while the other rooms of the houses had no specific gendered use and were used by men and women.
Planta de la casa de los Colores del yacimiento griego de Olynthos. Extraído de Lisa Nevett (1999)

Planta de la casa de los Colores del yacimiento griego de Olynthos. Extraído de Lisa Nevett (1999)

  • Casa griega. Ilustración: Francesc Ràfols


The Pastwomen Network co-organizes the International Seminar "Interdisciplinary Approaches to Gender Archaeology" at the University of Tübingen.

July 4-10, 2022

More information