How does one assess the true role and place of mothers operating in societies long since past? In some instances, there is a complete absence of written records. Specialists across many disciplines—from anthropologists and historians, to religious scholars and sociologists—must look to unusual sources and depend upon shards of pottery, fragments of textiles, and the examination of gravesites to inform our limited understanding. In other instances, written texts provide direct evidence of the civilization under investigation. These sources are often fragmentary in nature, or faulty in translation, leading to the possibility of flawed or incomplete interpretations. Also, those in a position to record the operation of daily life were not writing for posterity, but for a particular, and inevitably male, audience; hence, such accounts most frequently describe the affairs and events of interest under the control of men. As a result, documents detailing the lives of everyday women are uncovered with far less regularity. After all, why record the mundane, the repetitive, the common lot shared by hundreds of thousands of mothers, sisters, aunts, and daughters? What could one write that was not already known to those living in that society?


Ancient World Religious Scholar Medieval Text Antique Roman Unusual Source 
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© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stephen F. Austin State UniversityNacogdochesUSA
  2. 2.University of Mary Hardin-BaylorBeltonUSA

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