Books of the month
November - 2023
MATERNITY AND ORPHANHOOD
Missing Mothers: Maternal Absence in Antiquity (Peeters, 2021, 347 pages, $75), edited by Sabine R. Huebner and David M. Ratzan, is a study of the social construction of motherhood, and the consequences of the mother's absence in family life, especially of the children. Using diverse sources such as epigraphy, bioarchaeological, and literary evidence, the authors explore how the mother's death during childbirth impacted family life and the risks to which these orphaned children were exposed. Analyzing slave sales contracts, for example, it is possible to observe that motherless children were more susceptible to this fate - whether because they were kidnapped or exposed. Finally, the book also addresses how the absence of motherhood is represented in iconography and literary sources, highlighting the different values attributed to it in Greek and Roman societies.
Desigualdades Antiguas: economía, cultura y sociedad en el Oriente Medio y el Mediterráneo (Miño y Dávila Editores, 2023, 403 pages, R$182), organized by Marcelo Campagno, Julián Gallego, Carlos García Mac Gaw, and Richard Payne, seeks to reconsider the issue of social inequality in Antiquity based on the relationships between economic power and political and cultural identities. Covering a broad temporal and geographic range, as well as using different types of sources, the different authors seek to argue how political orders generated social hierarchies, and how ancient inequality regimes depended on both cultural particularities and economic exploitation. Contrary to traditional historiography, they also demonstrate how there was an instability in the categories of inequality, as well as how the “lower classes” created and mobilized around their own “moral economy”, especially in times of crisis.