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by Archaeology Newsroom

Ideological differences. The sepulchral inscriptions of women of the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman eras

The sepulchral inscriptions of antiquity are an important source of data for social history. Initially, this kind of “immortality”, recorded in epic poetry, was preserved only for aristocrat warriors. From the 7th century BC onwards new political circumstances created an “equality” in the face of death for most people which materialized in the new type of “immortality”, that of the sepulchral inscription. Women as well as men, had the right to be commemorated on their tomb , though this commemoration was strictly of a private character: Women died mostly in childbirth, or, peacefully in bed and their memory was preserved by their family, whereas men usually died on the battlefield and they were commemorated by the state. During the hellenistic and roman eras, women of the elite were commemorated not only for their matronly virtues but also for social roles such as that of athletes or evergetists. Of course it cannot be argued that there was a radical change in the position of women in society. However the social role of women which was minimal in classic times became more active . This becomes evident even from the platitudes that are inscribed on their tombs.