In the Shadows of Brotherhood : Analyzing Three Women's Gendered Political Roles, Contributions, and Alternative Discourses in the Club of Great Powers During the Late Bronze Age (1500 to 1200 BC)
Orser, Joseph A.
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The Amarna Letters, a cache of around 350 cuneiform tablets documenting relations between ancient Near East kings during the Late Bronze Age (1500 to 1200 BC), has been extensively studied by philologists who managed to piece together the chronology of the letters and provide translations. However, it took scholars considerable time to give the context of the letters by analyzing them from a historical and political perspective. Today, they have made significant advances in explaining the chronology, diplomacy, and Late Bronze Age Collapse concerning the Club of Great Powers, which is contemplated as the first documented instance of an international society. Ancient Near Eastern scholars have yet to make much progress in expanding scholarship past defining the fundamental ideologies of the system. If we bring women to the forefront of political analysis, we can better understand international relations in the Late Bronze Age. This paper analyzes women's roles and political agency within the institution of brotherhood (a practice that legitimizes relations between rulers through kinship connections) by utilizing international relations critical feminism and feminist poststructuralism theory. Three women, including Hatshepsut, Tadu-Hepa, and Puduḫepa, appear chronologically in the historical record through the various stages of the Club of Great Powers. The main components examined in this paper to uncover Hatshepsut, Tadu-Hepa, and Puduḫepa's roles and contributions are correspondences through letters and ideas on gender provided by artifacts. The resulting evidence provides a base to study the alternative discourses on gender these three women offered LBA society. When considering these aspects relating to their contributions and agency in politics from one of the first documented systems of international relations, it is apparent that political systems based on kinship required women's participation to function and flourish.
Tell el-Amarna tablets
Hatshepsut, Queen of Egypt
Late Bronze Age (1500-1200 BC)
PDF with text, color photos, and bibliography (pages 75-78).