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Title: A consideration of gender roles and relations in the Aegean Bronze Age interpreted from gestures and proxemics in art
Author: Poole, S. E.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2011
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This research examines whether depictions of males have been presented differently from those of females in Bronze Age Aegean art of the 2nd millennium BC, and if so, whether conclusions may be drawn from this about the social roles and relations between these genders in practice. Detailed observations are made of the way physical gestures are portrayed, and how human bodies are positioned in space and in relation to others, to try and gain insights on two levels. By drawing on ethological models bodily behaviour that is arguably innate, or at least nearly universal, has been identified, whereas a structuraliconographic methodology has revealed postures and gestures which seem more specific to these individual societies. The primary material examined includes a comprehensive sample of frescoes on which the human figure is portrayed; seal-stones, finger-rings, and impressions made from these, which show more than one human figure; and an appropriate selection of the most familiar and best preserved three-dimensional artefacts on which the human form is depicted. A secondary sample comprises a number of images that include some figurines and a few glyptics showing single figures seated, where kinds of seating are central to the analysis. The conclusion reached is that in many respects distinct differences suggest male/female dichotomies. These include active versus passive body language; males engaged in a wide range of activities contrasted with females involved in only a few; and male bodies as expansive versus females’ as constrained. It is postulated that these suggest an overall pattern of male dominance. There are, however, exceptions to these trends. These can be identified, for example, in processions. A number of images also suggest that some females may have been placed at least temporarily in limited roles imbued with prestige. Patterns of varying status can also be seen between individuals in single-gender groupings.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available