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The biological and social profiles of women in pre-pharaonic Egypt and Nubia (4th–3rd millennium BC): a biocultural approach


WOmen-PRO explores the life course of women in pre-pharaonic Egypt and Nubia, during the transition to complex society. Despite the volume of Predynastic research, women have been noticeably less investigated than men for this period. Therefore, WOmen-PRO's goal is to tackle the research gap on gender in the field, by investigating how this transitional period shaped the social role, identity and life course of women in the sample compared to men. To do so, I apply a cutting-edge, interdisciplinary biocultural methodology, combining methods such as palaeopathology, the study of entheseal changes, diet in view of dental health, mortuary archaeology and statistics. Analysis draws on osteological and funerary data of ~1500 adult individuals of both sexes from nine key sites in the region. WOmen-PRO’s objectives are: 1. To reconstruct female health status in view of rising social complexity; 2. To investigate aspects of female diet and how it may have changed over time; 3. To identify evidence of female physical activity levels over this transitional period; 4. To identify any correlates between funerary rites and the indicators of embodied life conditions, emerged from overall bioarchaeological analyses. WOmen-PRO will result in: the first collection of comprehensive female bio-social profiles for the early Nile Valley, with a comparative dataset from the male portion of the funerary population; an open source database storing the project’s data; a novel, interdisciplinary, non-destructive methodology to study gender and the life course, also beyond the specific context of the project. The Faculty of Archaeology at ULEI will offer high-quality training in the study of entheseal changes, dental analysis and the management of a bioarchaeology lab, via its director Dr Schrader. Such training will be key to both WOmen-PRO’s success and my career progress. Involvement in ULEI’s research and teaching will guarantee excellence in the two-way knowledge transfer with the host.


Net EU contribution
€ 187 624,32
Rapenburg 70
2311 EZ Leiden

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West-Nederland Zuid-Holland Agglomeratie Leiden en Bollenstreek
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
No data