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Re: [ANE-2] Priestesses in ANE (at the turn of the Era)

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  • Max Dashu
    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
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 1 6:27 PM
      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
      >Werner Llácer
      >(IT) Project Manager

      Max Dashu
      Suppressed Histories Archives
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