We sometimes don’t look back on the past in order to learn from our forebears’ mistakes and successes because it’s the wise thing to do. But because, sometimes, it’s the very past that claims our attention and makes us take notice of the faults our current society is making and, at that, keeps on perpetuating.
Such an example is the unearthing, at an archeological site in modern Turkey, of some of the earliest writings making reference to women’s rights – some of the earliest in the entire history of humanity!
Kültepe-Kaniş-Karum, situated in Anatolia and dating back to the Bronze Age, is the most ancient and richest source of private content texts in the Near East. So far, no fewer than 23 500 tablets have been excavated at the site. Written in an Assyrian dialect and using the cuneiform alphabet, they cover a fascinating range of topics: women’s rights, adoptions, arranged marriages, personal letters (to husbands, mother-in-laws), commercial records, more general economy and society dedicated texts.
And the most recent discovery at Kültepe, that of tablets addressing in detail the lives and place in society of women, is particularly fascinating. In these 19th century BC writings, vivid and insightful descriptions of various aspects of life have been made – marriage, divorce, adoption or the principles and laws of inheritance.
Women’s rights, the archeologists say, were protected through prenuptial agreements as well as through their uncurtailed capacity to seek and find justice. Women and men were equal in front of the court and bad treatments were, for instance, ground enough for women to pursue legal protection. Additionally, women were entitled to property rights, inheritances were split equally between sons and daughters, women could participate in trade and political agreements were not valid without the empress’ signature.
The society this settlement (near modern-day Kayseri) belonged to showed clear proof of civilizational emancipation and evolution. Furthermore, archeological clues suggest that the majority of Kültepe’s inhabitants (the settlement’s population is estimated to have been of 70 000 people) were literate.
UNESCO is considering the site’s entering the World Heritage list.
And we can use these revolutionary pieces of information coming to us from the past as a source of contemporary energy to #ChimeforChange – to militate for women’s right to justice, health and education!
The right to bodily integrity, to autonomy, the right to vote, that of having a job, of unimpaired access to equal pay, of enjoying full legal rights, the right to an education and the right to medical care are just some among them.
So, let’s continue raising our voices and wills for women’s rights!
This fall’s landmark charity event, The Global Citizen Festival, is also backed by Gucci’s initiative Chime for Change. If you can’t make it to New York on Saturday, September 26, to see Pearl Jam, Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay, make sure you tune in here and watch the concert live. Share the tip with your friends and close ones as well.
More, you can donate here, and support Global Citizen x Chime for Change in the struggle to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. And here for a women’s opportunities project of your choice, via Chime for Change powered by Gucci!
All, vital contributions we can all make. It’s been known from the most distant of times that women, as mothers and main educational role model in the lives of the next generation, are, singlehandedly, the most important actor on the path to progress.
Photos: judithstarkston.com, kayseriden.biz, snipview.com, hurriyetdailynews.com, metmuseum.org, blogs.ucl.ac.uk