In the smash Broadway musical Hamilton, Alexander’s wife Eliza begs him, “Let me be a part of the narrative.” This heartbreaking scene has to do with their marriage and his obsessive work on behalf of the new country he’s helping to build. But, it can also be interpreted as a broader plea. In the American Revolution, as in France’s and later Russia’s, women worked alongside their husbands to attain independence, only to find that when the dust settled, they were back where they started. One patriarchy had simply been replaced by another.
This article was first published in the August 2015 issue of BBC History Magazine.
1) Enheduanna: Priestess, poet, princess, and the first named writer (c2285–2250 BC)
The daughter of the Mesopotamian king Sargon the Great, the Akkadian who unified central and southern Mesopotamia, Enheduanna was appointed high priestess by her father in a bid to prove his right as the empire’s ruler.
Enheduanna was the unifier. The Sumerian civilisation of southern Mesopotamia had been conquered but the two peoples needed to be melded into one empire. It was her job, as high priestess, to use her religious power and influence to unite them.
But Enheduanna is not remarkable only for the power that she wielded, she was also an accomplished writer who is widely recognised as being the first known person to attach a signature to her written works.
Enheduanna makes an offering to the gods in this votive plaque from c2300–2275 BC. © Penn Museum Continue reading…