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The Role Of Scribes In Ancient Civilizations

1746 words - 7 pages

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. It is theorized that women were provided with training and education in the middle to upper classes by private tutors. Women scribes are attested in Old Babylonian Sippar to be members of the cloister, which functioned as an important social and economic entity in that city. Overall the work of women in this time, is limited to just a few documents and was ultimately overshadowed by their male counterpart
We owe most of our knowledge of ancient Egypt to the work of her scribes. The ancient Egyptians covered their temples and burial rooms with hieroglyphs, but they also employed scribes to record everything; from stocks in held in the stores for workers, the court proceedings, magical spells, and legal contracts, and all the way to genealogies. Very little happened in Egypt without a scribe involved to record or relay information. The scribes were considered part of the royal court, and therefore did not need to pay taxes, undertake military services or manual labor.
Women who possessed a degree of literacy probably were members of the royal household, temple staff or relatives of workmen who were attached to the royal tombs. Girls learned their literate skills from either their parents or a tutor. Contrary to boys...

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