A pile of documentation for Greece is in Joan
Breton Connelly's Portrait of a Priestess (2008).
For west Asia, I haven't seen anything comparable
for the early centuries BCE, although Anatolian
priestesses were still around, as might be
suspected from the prominence of female leaders
in Christian movements there. Ramsey MacMullen
mentions some Anatolian examples such as the
priestess Ammias of Thyatira, who was so highly
revered that her grave became an oracular site.
(Possibly this is the teacher in Thyatira who the
author of Revelations called "Jezebel," for
"claim[ing] to be a prophetess"?) MacMullen also
refers to Syrian competitions of pagan women
singing hymns in the second century CE; the
winners were selected as priestesses. (in
Christianity and Paganism in the 4th to 8th
Centuries, Yale 1997.
Various instances of priestesses are named in
Pausanias and other ancient sources. I don't have
the cites to hand at the moment. I haven't seen
Stephanie Budin's debunking of "sacred
prostitution" yet but there is bound to be some
references to "hierodules" in there.
A study of this is very much needed that will
detach the priestesses from the linguistic
couverture of the masculine plural, for ancient
times, and for modern sources the inattention to
the female dimension.
>I was involved recently on a discussion with some friends about matters
>totally off-topic but tangential to this list. I carried the day, with
>an -it seems- very convincing demostration that women priestesses
>(defined as a woman with a central and active function at ritual events)
>were a not unsual feature all across the Mediterranean Rim and the NE in
>pre-christian times. While I suspect I'm right, my argument had a flaw
>my oponents were unable to spot: I actually had NO DATA (and in one
>instance probably a flat denial) of the validity of my arguments for
>the Levant in general, and more particulary at the turn of the Era.
>A preliminary search has given me no further clue so I turn to the list
>in search for possible witnesses of women acting in priestly functions
>during the -100 to 200 timeframe in the ANE. It does not need to be
>native (i.e. greeks are welcome). I'm also interested in "evidence of
>absence" cases beside the jewish one (but it could turn funny, for me,
>it this one were falsified )
>Many thanks in advance
>(IT) Project Manager
Suppressed Histories Archives