Ancient Egyptian Woman, Familes & Parenting

Uploaded by WafeekWahby on 18.04.2012

♪ [music playing-- no dialogue] ♪♪
>> Dr. Allen Lanham: Good morning and welcome to
Booth Library in our continuation of
"A Futuristic Look Through Ancient Lenses", our journey
to ancient Egypt as we progress through the month of October.
I think this is our sixth or seventh event, and we have had
all types of programs come forth, but this one impresses me
as something that goes right to the root of life, and that's the
people, and perhaps the common people because several of our
attempts have been looking at perhaps the very wealthy, or
looking at the geographic implications of life, etcetera.
Now we're really going to look at the family and some things
that would be quite meaningful for us today.
We thank you for coming and hope that you will return.
Make sure that you have a brochure from the back so you'll
know when our other activities are sponsored.
Even today, this evening at 7 p.m., we will look at medicine,
and so without further ado, I give you Wafeek Wahby,
who is coordinating this series.
[audience applause]
>> Dr. Wafeek Wahby: Thank you very much for coming
to this presentation as part of the symposium, EIU symposium,
"A Futuristic Look Through Ancient Lenses".
As we pride ourselves in our achievements in the 21st
Century, we felt it's good for us as a generation to take a few
minutes, or seconds, or moments to look back and see what great
people did in the past.
Today we have a very special presentation that talks about
family--mother, sister, women and children--the building
blocks of any society.
And when we look into great achievements of this
civilization--I gave my students an exercise to make
construction, a bid for this today, it was our technology
today, to make a replica of this.
They did it from scratch.
I tell my students see how much it would've cost with today's
prices, with today's technology to build something like this.
It's amazing and wherever you look, you see this civilization
that was the super power of its time.
Family was the building block, I think.
We have family consumer sciences at Eastern Illinois, we pride
ourselves on this, and we thank the family consumer sciences
faculty and chair--I'll ask him to come and present them.
We have the school of technology--the dean couldn't
make it and the chair couldn't make it, so I'll introduce
technology here and ask Dr. Jim Painter.
Kaninika Bhatnagar, right?
She is very strong in architectural technology and
construction, but she is also strong in women.
She has lots of studies on women and technology and I won't steal
her thunder, but leave her to do this, but before that I'll ask
chair Jim Painter.
>> Dr. Jim Painter: Thanks Wafeek.
Thank you very much.
It's a privilege for us to be here as family consumer sciences
because really the issues that we talk about today are really
family issues at the base about any of them.
Whether they're cultural things, nutrition problems we have, they
come back to the family as the base, and so I'd like to
introduce Christina Yousef.
Christina is going to talk about marriage and family life, and
it's interesting to watch Christina in the classroom
because she comes in and talks about her arranged marriage and
the students eyes pop open as she discusses how she came into
her marriage, and so that's kind of exciting and she'll probably
share some of that with you.
And then thanks to Dr. Micki Meadows and Dr. Frances Murphy
who run our child development lab, and so they again have a
great perspective looking at families and children, and
they're going to talk a little bit more about
family life in general.
So with that, Wafeek, are we ready to begin?
Okay, thanks.
[audience applause]
>> Dr. Kaninika Bhatnagar: Thank you.
So I'm Kaninika, School of Technology, and I'm going to be
really introducing this entire piece because I'm going to be
talking about gender roles in general, at a broad level.
Now, to begin with, I found this quote and I found several
confirmations of validations of this quote, which is basically
saying that ancient people of the Nile Valley, or the
Egyptians, [unclear dialogue], they have given the maximum
or the highest legal status to women in general, and that
actually includes today as well and that's what's so interesting
as we will see in a bit.
Now I apologize for a lot of text on my slides, but I'll try
to sort of run through them.
Ancient Egyptian women were in mild contrast to other cultures,
the kind of rights they had as opposed to cultures existing at
the same time [unclear dialogue].
There was a very high level of respect for women,
[unclear dialogue] sophisticated, legal and
[unclear dialogue].
Christina is going to be talking more about that particularly in
the royal household, women could become extremely influential.
They could rule--women in ancient Egypt could be the
rulers and that is something that I learned while I was
researching for this piece.
For example, and you have to forgive me--I'm not getting the
names right here--Aahotep ruled while her son came of age.
And then of course there was a female pharaoh, Hatshepsut,
and she ruled for 20 years.
That was unusual and that was something that I did not know.
This is something of Nefertiti.
She is riding in her own chariot and--let's see
here--accompanying husband, pharaoh Akhenaten from the royal
palace to the temple, and because she has an extremely
high status she is by herself, riding in her own chariot, so
she's actually the person in charge in that sense.
Now before we go any further talking about gender in ancient
Egypt, we have to sort of roll back to the idea of religion and
gods and goddesses, because everything really kind of
derives from there.
So Egyptian deities tended to mirror their mortal worshippers.
So it's kind of the other way around--the worshippers are
mirroring the deities, the gods.
So therefore we can think about goddesses.
When you talk about gender, we think about goddesses, queens
and the wealthy women, and then the [unclear dialogue].
These, by the way, are names of some goddesses--Isis, Hathor,
Nut, Sekhmet, Tefnut.
So, natural forces have been personified as goddesses.
The goddesses for music, dancing, pleasure, and the
goddesses for motherhood, in particular, fertility,
motherhood, child bearing, etcetera.
And goddesses had a very special place because they were the
protector of the gods.
There were also the protector of the pharaohs, and therefore that
actually led to a very high place.
So very quickly, let's talk about some of the goddesses in
ancient Egypt.
The social system reflects an Egyptian mythology where
goddesses played an equal if not chief role, guiding the pharaoh
for example.
Primeval mother figures in the earliest prehistoric Egyptian
[unclear dialogue] are female.
Female deities were kept separate from the males,
excuse me.
Egyptian goddesses also creator deities and the protectors of
pharaohs in the form of natural animals,
for example--cobra, vulture or lioness, etcetera.
The first goddess is Isis, that I'd like to talk about.
She was important, she was very important because she was the
goddess of motherhood and fertility, and therefore she was
worshipped throughout until the sixth century.
Here, this is a statue of Isis, and she is the goddess of
fertility, pregnancy--provides protection during pregnancy
and child birth.
In this case she's nursing her son Horus.
This is another very interesting goddess--Tawaret, is that right?
>> male speaker: Yes.
>> Dr. Bhatnagar: Tawaret, she is the
goddess, again, of pregnancy, birth etcetera,
and she is a very, what would you
say, grotesque kind of figure but she was worshipped for
protection against the dangers of birth,
pregnancy, etcetera, etcetera.
This is kind of an exception to other,
the ways goddesses have been displayed.
And then this is another very very
important goddess--she's Ma'at.
And she is the symbol of cosmic harmony and balance, and what's
important about her is she actually was sort of over the
pharaoh in the, in terms of her powers.
The pharaoh was supposed to be following her dictates for
carrying out his ruling, rulerships, etcetera, so Ma'at
becomes an extremely important goddess here.
Several depictions of her, if they come through.
So these are some examples of the kind of Egyptian goddesses
and from there we sort of get to the next level,
which is the royal women--the queens, the wealthy women.
Now the wealthy women--this is where, Cleopatra, it's supposed
to be her sarcophagus.
Pharaohs were polygamists, but they had a principle queen whose
children would be the heirs, and therefore that queen became an
essential part of her husband's reign.
She supported her husband in a variety of duties, religious and
political, and here are some examples.
Queen Tiy was the wife of Amenhotep III, was actually born
a commoner so it was not unusual for that to happen.
Queen Nefertiti of course, you've all heard of her,
[unclear dialogue].
Another surprising fact that I did not know, royal women
undertook military campaigns, so they were not just sitting at
home taking care of the children.
They actually took part in conflicts, active conflicts and
they have been depicted as such.
Regarded socially threatening [unclear dialogue] enemies of
the state, female graves containing weapons are found
throughout the history of Egypt.
That was interesting.
Here are some examples of rulers of like I mentioned earlier.
Ahhotep ruled while her son was growing up.
Hatshepsut became the pharoah because of her father, so the
legitimacy was actually gained through her father.
They're given estates, financial independence, [unclear
dialogue], even develop their own religious symbols.
Queen was perceived as being close to being a god, so if you
look at their hierarchy, they have the gods and goddesses,
then you have the royal folk and queen was very close up there.
Amenhotep III and Ramesses the Great each built temples to
their principle queens.
In other words, their queens were actually being worshipped
as gods, so that shows the amount of respect and the
stature that queens had in that society.
Nefertiti is shown actively involved in her husband's
[unclear dialogue] as well, so these are just some examples.
[unclear dialogue] executing foreign prisoners, ruling
independently--I tried looking for those pictures but this is
all I could find.
Similarly, [unclear dialogue] took the throne following the
death of her husband, etcetera, and then of course you have
Cleopatra, last of the great female pharaohs.
So it was not exactly an exception--there were several
female pharaohs, something which came
to light during this research for me.
Otherwise, if we go down just a little bit, the next step, the
wealthy, in general, their status, their privileges,
etcetera, were a direct result of their relationship with the
king and their abilities to administer the country, even
though most of the officials were men, but women did get high
office, and these are just some examples.
Two of the women even achieved the rank of a vezir, the prime
minister, which was highly unusual, [unclear dialogue]
below the pharaoh.
Now this one--I know it's hard to read--basically this is about
leisure, ladies of leisure, which is wealthy women who had
the money and therefore, [unclear dialogue], rich women
were not required to produce large numbers of children
[unclear dialogue] because that was one of the criteria.
You have a large family, you have a lot of children and
therefore you have people who can work for you, family members
who can work for you, but that's not a
requirement for queens and royalty.
They could instead have alternate career choices, so
here are some examples of what they could do.
This, by the way, is of course the Hollywood version of it,
it's not really a authentic picture, but it gives
the idea that they could have a good life
basically, and they're pampered.
enjoying a manner of relaxation, listening to music,
eating good food, etcetera, etcetera.
So this was about, a very quick overview of what the wealthy
women and the queens had and had access to, but we talk about the
ordinary--not exactly poor as much as ordinary--
Egyptian women, the common folk.
The woman's role as mother and wife still comes first in
Egyptian society, which again Christina will talk about that
in detail, but besides that there were some other
professions such as weaving,
perfume making and entertainment.
They were musicians and they had a lot of rights.
The political economic rights Egyptian women enjoyed
made them extremely liberated.
These were some examples of work--farm work, weaving,
[unclear dialogue]--although the primary work was still to look
after home and children.
One of the problems, of course, was there was no contraception,
which means when they became pregnant then a whole lot of
time and energy and everything would be concentrated on child
care and that would take time away from any possible potential
work they could engage in.
They also had religious employment.
In general, men were in charge of temples, etcetera, but women
filled a variety of religious offices.
[unclear dialogue].
So musicians was a very sort of a significant career option
you could say, for our women at that time.
Associated with [unclear dialogue], in general goddesses
tended to serve as protectors of the dead.
And finally--I think I'm getting close to, yeah--equity.
I cannot sort of stress on this enough--it's so surprising the
degree of equity that women enjoyed in ancient Egypt.
They were portrayed in a very public way alongside men, they
were shown to coordinate ritual events, even
undertake [unclear dialogue].
This is interesting, I came across this.
One woman steering a cargo ship even reprimands the man who
brings her a meal.
The words "don't obstruct my face when I'm pulling to shore".
So they had a commanding or a powerful position and it didn't
matter, they could be as the overseer position rather than
just the underlings.
Surviving accounts, contracts--contracts
[unclear dialogue] receiving the same pay rations as men
for undertaking the same job, which is something
that we still have not achieved.
That was just amazing to me.
They control treasury, own estates, workshops, etcetera.
So in conclusion, strange mix of very traditional and
surprisingly modern--and I would like to underline modern,
certainly, in so many different ways.
Limited by gender but they're highly respected.
Most remarkably their legal rights and responsibilities that
[unclear dialogue] for the next 4,000 years or more.
Thank you, any questions?
>> Dr. Wahby: Should we keep the
questions until the end?
>> Dr. Bhatnagar: Yeah, let's do that.
[no dialogue].
>> Ms. Christina Yousef: Alright.
Now, I'm going to talk about the role of the women in marriage as
wives and mothers.
So from Kaninika's presentation, we can lend that 4,000 years
ago--if we look at the women today and if you think of them,
we would imagine them as oppressed, depressed and very
kind of neglected, devalued women, but from her presentation
and from all the research that I did, I learned that no, in
reality, all these ancient women had more rights as compared to
what we have today, even in the third-world countries.
Many women in the third-world countries don't enjoy the rights
that the women then had, today.
Egypt treated its women with respect in the ancient times
than any other major civilization of that time, so
women were treated with respect because marriage was a normal
and a very desirable state at that time.
Both genders valued each other's company and they wanted to spend
time together, and it is interesting to know that there
are no records of any actual marriage found in the history,
so some scholars believe that maybe it's a real fluke in the
history records that we don't find any actual marriage records
there, but then some other scholars, they believe that when
couples started to live together they were considered a married
couple, which is like a very[unclear dialogue] North
American concept of common law marriage, so it's very true that
even then people, but there were no records of marriage but
definitely they did have records of divorce, which means that
divorce only follows marriage, so there was marriage, that's
why there were records of divorce there.
As the first very kind of highly sensual people, they believed
more in fertility and procreation.
That's why they considered that if they want to get into the
relationship, marital relationship, they ought to have
plenty of children there, you know.
And for a normal, kind of ordinary people, large families
were the big idea, but for the royal families, they kind of
stuck to the smaller number families because they could
afford the servants and they could afford many other people.
Once marriage was there, the couple was expected to be
faithful, sexually, to each other, you know.
Except the kings of the royal family, monogamy was the norm.
Monogamy was the norm, you know.
They would marry one spouse and they will express their love,
they will express their affection and it was a purely
social and economic arrangement.
Extended family concept was also there, like the mothers, the
daughters, the grandmothers, aunts--they all lived together
in one household.
If not in the one household, then they would live in a very
close proximity of each other so that they could help out
each other with the household tasks and other things.
So there are some records, you know, that they said when men
were unable to have children with their wives, when their
wives were unable to conceive, they could have children with
servant girls so they were so much into the procreation and
the families that they wanted more and more families and more
and more children right there.
There was no age limit.
People could marry, I mean there was no set rule that only you
have to get married at this age, but certainly there was
definitely a rule for the girls.
The girls were supposed to get into this marital relation only
after they start to menstruate, which is about the
age of 14 and 15.
So when their [unclear dialogue] their hormones start to kick in,
yes, certainly they can have the marital status there.
So the family would throw big parties, the family and the
friends, you know, so that they can celebrate the marriage of
the children and friends, and the couple were presented with a
lot of gifts so that they can have their fresh start in the
new household.
Egyptian marriages were different as compared to the
marriages that we have today.
They were allowed, they could marry in their own
relationships, like their first cousins, their brothers and
sisters, especially in the royal family to safeguard their
dynasties--they didn't want their royal blood to become a
mixture, so they wanted that especially, you know, and there
are some [unclear dialogue] --reading the articles
and doing the research--I found that there were times where
fathers also married their daughters to save their
dynasties there.
So, women were treated as equal in the marriage as their
husbands, you know.
They have equal say and couples were shown--how we see their
love and emotional support, we also see in the images having
their arms around each other and couples are embracing
each other, so that shows their love and emotional support
and they are treated very equally.
Even in this picture, we see that husband and wife,
they both are holding the children.
That means that it was not only the job of a woman to raise the
family and children--men took equal sharing
in their raising families.
Monogamy was the norm--which I said earlier, yes--and with the
marriage comes their legal rights
and their economic rights.
Women acquired the possession of what they got as gifts from
their family, from their parents and from their husbands there,
or family and friends.
According to this Egyptian property law, women were
entitled to own one-third of the property, which was the
community property of her husband, even during the
marriage or even after the divorce or even after the death
of her husband there.
The dowry--dowry means the property that she brings in from
her family, the inheritance that she gets from her parents there,
so that was hers.
That is hers but husbands are entitled to use them for free,
but in case of divorce she will take all of her inheritance back
plus the share which she gets in the property that she gets, the
community property that she gets from her husband there.
As Kaninika told you, yes child bearing was [unclear dialogue].
They had so many goddesses of pregnancy, goddesses of
children, you know, so it was a very important
phenomenon for them.
A fertile woman was considered like a very successful.
She didn't only earn the recognition of her husband, she
also earned the respect of her society by becoming a mother, so
no matter how many roles they have, know matter what kind of
careers they had, once they're a mother, once they're a mom,
they are put above anybody else there, you know.
So these are the important roles--the mothers, the sisters
and the daughters.
So these are considered the three very important roles
at that time.
So the birth of the child was certainly great time,
it was a time of great joy, but of a little concern also.
The two concerns which are very common was the high infant
mortality rate and secondly the stress that the mother could go
through during that time of delivery.
So there were two midwives assigned to that kind of job,
when the mother was supposed to deliver the babies--one to take
care of the newborn and another to take care of the woman who is
delivering the child at that time.
They had many titles, they had many titles but the mistress of
the house was the title commonly given to the non royal women.
Mistress of the house means that she is running the
household--men were supposed to be the head of the household,
but women were not less.
So there is a great saying in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," you
know, the movie, that if men are the head of the household,
women are the neck, so they are the ones who
make them turn right or left.
This is true, yeah, women were the neck at that time
and they made, they ran the household and men
were not expected to interfere.
They avoided interfering in the household matters and trusted
their wives to do the job properly.
Running the smooth household was not an easy job.
It required a lot of work.
Even food had to be prepared from scratch, and commonly eaten
food was the bread, vegetables, served with beer, so that was
the kind of common food that they had,
and everything had to be started from scratch.
Even if you wanted a loaf of bread, the women had to grind
the grains to prepare that bread so it was not easy, but
certainly Egyptian women, who were the head of the household,
you know, they also could afford, they would hire servants
and slaves to help them around the household, but it was still
the job of the mistress of the house to see and supervise that
all the work is done properly in the
presence of the servants there.
We learned a lot about the royal women, we talked about the
wealthy women, we talked about the [unclear dialogue],
so women, no matter whether they belonged to the royal families,
they belonged to the wealthy families or poor families,
they had equal rights.
They enjoyed a lot of rights that we may
not have even today, okay.
What were their rights?
They had the same legal and economic rights
as any Egyptian men could have.
They kept the inheritance from their parents that they got.
There was no legal distinction whether it's a male or female.
The only legal distinction was based upon their social
classes--if they belonged to the upper class or if they belonged
to the lower class--that was the only, but there was no
distinction between the genders.
Both men and women, they were treated pretty equal.
When it comes to the property that the woman brought into the
marriage from her parents or which she inherited from her
family, that was hers no matter what they do.
She could manage and dispose of her private property, she could
administer all her property independently--she didn't have
to ask her husband what she wanted to do with the property,
she was her own master when it comes to her stuff, her property
and her belongings.
And she had full right to own and run her own business,
and of course, the family, the friends,
and the husband and parents,
they all helped that lady to run her own business, so
the social support, the family support, was always there
when it came to running their own businesses and sharing
their own property right there.
We heard about royal ladies, that until the time their sons
and nephews grew old that the women were in control and they
ruled the nation, yeah, that was one of the rights that women
enjoyed at that time.
They were also able to appear in the court.
They could bring lawsuit against anybody in the court and they
would not be discriminated based upon their gender or based upon
their sex, so they could appear in the court and they will win
the case is what they brought to the courts right there.
They were able to make a will.
Whatever the property they brought--if they want to leave
it for the family, if they want to leave it for their children,
sons or daughters, whatever.
Procreation was the main idea according to their religion and
their values but in case the woman is unable to conceive,
they were open to adoption.
They were able to adopt, but only with the consent of their
husbands and they won't go [unclear dialogue], they will go
for the adoption within the family.
They will go and adopt children from the poor family so that
they could keep the family inside.
They won't go for much of the outside adoption that today we
can do--we can go for international adoption, we can
go for adoption anywhere, but they preferred to adopt children
from their own families, like less fortunate families.
They were allowed to go out in public.
Today we see a lot of Egyptian women wearing veils and a lot of
people from the third-world countries wearing veils, but
they worked in the fields, they worked in the offices,
they worked everywhere in the public, but they did not wear
a veil at that time.
So it means that they felt, they had a sense of safety, they had
the sense of security.
That's why they didn't have to cover themselves or hide
themselves from anybody else there.
So, work of the upper and middle class family was limited to the
home and to the family, but the customary rules were the mothers
and daughters and bearer of the children
but some did more than that.
They also held offices and they also participated in the real
jobs [unclear dialogue].
Though, you know, all these Egyptians, their main focus was
on the institution of marriage but
divorce was not uncommon either.
It was, of course, a matter of disappointment
but no way it was a disgrace.
It was accepted, and there were two reasons how people could
go--there was a fault-based reason and there was a no
fault-based reason.
The fault-based reason was if the person, either one, either
gender, was unfaithful to the person, they were unable to
conceive or there was abuse in the family, so those were the
fault-based reasons that why you would get divorced.
The no fault was incompatibility--I cannot get
along--and they were granted the wish to go for the divorce, but
it was never a stigma.
It was a matter of disappointment, but never
brought any disgrace, and we see, the records show, that many
people, they re-married after the divorce.
That's why we see one person having more than one spouse,
because re-marriage was common, they can divorce and also
because of the high death rate at that time, high mortality
rate, people would go for the second marriage because marriage
was like the most desired institution and they did want to
get married all the time.
So that's why--marriage, re-marriage and high death rate
was able to keep that.
But certainly, women were also able to initiate the divorce.
It's not only the men who would initiate the divorce, but if
women initiate the divorce and if the divorce is uncontested,
if the man is kind of willing to divorce also, she will not only
take her share, but she would also take the property which
comes from her husband, which is one-third of the community
property, plus she will take all the settlements
that come with the divorce.
But if she dumps her sick husband and wants the divorce
just to get rid of the sick husband, then she has to let go
of everything that she brought.
So therefore, she had a right to divorce, but in a genuine case,
not in just because 'I want to go away, I can't take care of
you, sick man,' so no, she can't do that.
Then she had to let go of everything which was there, so
yeah women had the right to initiate divorce at that time.
So, the royal wives, yeah it was their role to help bore the
children, but maybe not that many.
They bore many children so that the system could run smoothly.
They ensured the smooth functioning of the palace.
They were not actively involved in the official businesses, but
silently, in the background, they were very actively
involved with their husbands, helping them.
And they also played the role of [unclear dialogue], you know,
like until the time the sons grew up they will rule so that,
yeah, they can wait until then.
So, we learned about the royal kingdom, that how the queens,
they became more powerful, they acquired many titles and
Hatshepsut, you know, she became pharaoh after gaining--oh, did I
say it right, Wafeek--okay, so she gained, she became pharaoh
after she gained the role there.
So certainly, no matter whatever women did, they always found
honor as mothers, and that is the role of any woman, no only
the Egyptian women, not only the Asian women, not only the
American women.
No matter wherever the women are, you know, they find great
pleasure in their motherly role.
So, many people say that Egyptian times were the best
times for women to live, and it seems like
that--at least for women.
Where they were treated equally and they were given the basic
rights, and today, in today's society there are many
countries, there are many societies where women rights are
lacking and women--like as you said, they are the role models
and they are the building blocks of our societies, the families.
The are the neck of the family, if not the head, definitely the
neck of the family, and if they don't get any respect, then
certainly, they need to do more.
So I will leave the motherly role and the family role for my
colleagues to discuss, but certainly, I will talk a little
bit about the women--not talk but share--that these were the
ancient clothing that many women prefer to wear.
There was a distinction between the upper class and the lower
class clothing.
The royal, the rich women always had better clothing as compared
to the women who came from the not-so-fortunate families there.
Anytime--you know, women, they are so much into the beauty and
they have these beauty treatments there and then the
beauty secrets, their hair style and all that, you know.
One profession that I think Kaninika [unclear dialogue],
that is the women were professional mourners.
They will always mourn, they were called to mourn at the
death of the men, not at the death of the women, but they
were called to mourn, professionally.
They were special mourners there, okay.
So, these are the ancient royal people--they
can get their hair cut right there.
And these are the jewelry--the weakness of a woman.
Alright, thank you so much.
[audience applause]
[no dialogue]
>> Dr. Frances Murphy: Mickie Meadows and I
are going to talk a little bit about the family
life, and I want to draw two contrasts.
One is how ancient Egyptian family life is similar to our
contemporary family life, and then to talk about how it is
actually different.
Just in case you don't know where Egypt is, I want to make
sure, that you realize it's in north Africa.
And we're indebted to the hieroglyphics and the drawings
because that's how we know about Egypt.
We don't know this much about so many other cultures, but they
were kind to us in that they shared with us their
representation of their royal life.
We unfortunately don't know all that much about the common
people because what's depicted and what we go to see are the
monuments to the deities and people who ruled at different
times in history.
Okay, I've been to Egypt twice--there's that--it is the
coolest place in the world, I'm sorry, it is just wonderful.
Actually these are just pictures--the camels
are out of this world.
This is a young Egyptian-American young man who
also went back to his homeland.
If you ever have a chance to go to Egypt, you must do so because
it is just a phenomenal experience,
so don't overlook that part.
Put it in your bucket list on your to-do list.
So, children are instructed to repay
your mother for all her care.
Give her as much bread as she needs and carry her as she
carried you, for you were a heavy burden to her and when you
were finally born, at the end of that, she still carried you on
her neck and for three years she suckled you and kept you clean,
so the original guilt trip--here it is, right here.
Be good to your mother because she has worked so very hard.
So child birth was seen as important, as has been
established, so that's one thing you can know about
early Egyptian life.
There's a book by Brazelton and Greenspan called
"The Irreducible Needs of Children,"
and I love that terminology.
So what are the irreducible needs of children, whether
they're in ancient Egypt or they're in Charleston, Illinois.
And this is a selected list of what Brazelton and Greenspan
identified--so love, safety and a village membership.
So love--ongoing, nurturing relationships.
How can we see that that was exhibited in ancient Egypt?
They cared for their children and it was either their job or
it was their job to manage the people that cared for their
children, and that of course depended on
their socioeconomic status.
They also named their children early.
They didn't wait to name them.
Through the naming process and amulets and other things that
fit in with their religious practices, they sought to
protect their children.
You know, in protection, and the environment was important.
Is that horrible--do you see what that slide
is, see the scorpion?
That's the point.
So they lived out in a desert area, or at least the Nile
Valley bordered a desert area, so it could be, especially
before the rains came to flood the Nile and create all the
growth season, it was austere environment--so the heat, the
wind--of course that has done us a favor, because things are so
well preserved in Egypt because of the heat and because of the
dry, very very dry climate.
So while a lot of the things they did was to preserve the
beauty and the youthfulness, there were also some of these
practices used in chemistry and concoctions that actually
protected their skin.
So families protected their children.
The villlage membership was important.
Of course, many of us grew up with the story of Moses who was
drawn from the water and actually adopted
by an Egyptian princess.
Well, adoption was not that uncommon, and that really amazed
me because I had thought that the adoption of Moses must have
been a really really strange occurrence.
You know, another child from a race of people who, at that
point, were slaves, but that was not the case apparently and so
as Christina pointed out, they utilized adoption to care for
children who had been abandoned, whose
families were very impoverished.
As a matter of fact, the Greeks actually noted in their writings
that they were surprised that the Egyptians treated babies,
infants, so well because, apparently, the Greeks were
throwing out their babies to the elements when
they didn't want them anymore.
Female children were socialized and educated to be mistresses of
households--also, entertainment skills--to be the people who
carried out the actual work to enable other people to utilize
the cosmetics and the hair and the
clothing standards that was necessary.
So that took a lot of skilled labor in order to support these
wealthy families.
To be a domestic servant and then to be a wife, mother,
according to the skills.
So that's how female children were educated in terms of
developing skills.
Male children, in their village membership, could possibly go to
school, and if they learned to read, they learned to write and
they learned mathematics, then they could be a scribe or a
bureaucrat and do the accounting and the managerial
work of the kingdom.
The military was also an option and it took many many tradesman,
artists and farmers and herdsman, so if their family was
in those professions, then they would be continuing.
So the class distinctions--transportation
required people to do the transportation , whether it was
boat travel on the Nile or carrying people through the city
who were very wealthy and royalty, so that was part of the
job of the people of the lower class.
All the beauty regimens were things that the lower class
people helped the upper class, as well as
household and food preparation.
But the good thing was that the peasants and farmers did have
property rights, and they could even inherit the properties of
their masters if those masters died childless.
The common people's materials and artifacts is rarely
surviving, so here's a terracotta model of what a
common person's household would be like--the small garden, the
small house, the importance of the rooftop for cooling, wheat
sandals, whereas the royalty would wear leather sandals and,
of course, baskets.
So, Egyptian technology is astounding and our
technology--see this little light bulb--it doesn't seem to
fit very well.
So when I was in Egypt, I--I didn't take this picture--but
when I saw this picture, I remember very well the feeling
of going down this tunnel, this place that was stairs and
knowing that that rock had been there for thousands and
thousands of years, and there was these little light bulbs on
these little thin strings and you're in this completely dark
[unclear dialogue] place.
You've got only one way out and that's all those people behind
you, and there's that little light bulb and I thought
'how incongruent'.
So technology, our technology, doesn't exactly fit with theirs
and we can't reproduce their technology very well,
and Dr. Meadows is going to pick it up there.
>> Dr. Micki Meadows: I'm going to actually
do the comparison with ancient technologies
and our technologies now.
So when we think about ancient Egypt, we think about their
limitations often, so limitations by their deities.
You know they were limited in the way they could behave, by
their patterns of worship--we might think that they were
limited in their communication patterns and some of those types
of things, but actually what I want to look at is the way they
had more freedom sometimes than we did, and how we are limited
as well and don't even realize it often.
So in order to really compare and contrast today's children
and families with ancient Egypt's children and families,
we'd have to pull the plug on what we
would call our technology.
Technology is anything that makes the world easier
obviously, but our technology is largely electronic.
You know, we would have to get rid of things
powered by petroleum products, you know,
we would have to completely rethink the way we interact,
the way we communicate with one another.
So I want to talk about that for a minute.
We are, in our mind, we are servants almost to the
technology we have, just like people in ancient Egypt might
have seemed to be servants, so the technology we have shapes
our lives, shapes our family.
The technology that we have shapes the way we interact with
one another.
Think about the way those of you who are here interacted with
your families when you were children and the way families
interact now, and whether that's a positive or a
negative is open for debate.
On one hand, my children don't live with me anymore and I
talked to them a lot.
I talked to them at least--I have two and I talked to one of
them at least once a day.
Now it's through texting, it's not face-to-face, but I think if
they still lived across--they still live here in town--but I
think if they lived across town and we didn't text, I don't know
that I would talk to them every day, you know, I don't know what
that would be.
So the idea that our technology is taking over us is true, but
there's some positive aspects.
You know, we always have to look at technology with a real fluid
eye, I suppose, but it does change the way families
communicate, right?
For better or for worse, we communicate very very
differently than we have in the past, you know, based on the
technology we have.
The media that we have shapes families.
It tells families what to value instead of looking to a smaller
community, looking toward deities, looking towards
nobility, we look towards the media to tell us what's
important, what we need, what we should have.
The media shapes our value system to a great degree.
The media shapes our entertainment clearly.
It's just overwhelming.
See how overwhelmed the children are by the technology.
It's really something to think about.
So I want to leave you guys with some recommendations, because
that's what we do in the school of family and consumer sciences.
So we've covered ancient Egypt, you know, I'm going to lead then
into how we believe we might be able to get back the feel of
some of that ancient closeness and some of the ancient ties,
and a village that is more connected maybe by relationships
and less connected by technology, so these are some
recommendations that we have in the school of family and
consumer sciences we use from the American Association of
Pediatrics, National Association for the Education of Young
Children--all provide information for us.
What we need to do is we need to look at the media and the
technology that the children are using.
We tend to look at some things as being very useful to children
in families and some things as being negative, so, for
instance, I'll have people that will come in--I work in the
child development lab, as Dr. Painter said--I have families
that will come in and say 'my child will sit in front of a
computer for hours,' so we're talking under 5.
And they're excited about that, they think that that's a really
good thing because computers are good, because people need to
know how to use computers, and so what we say is that's pretty
close to sitting in front of a television for hours.
The computers, the games that children use, the things that
they're doing, when you add up all of their screen time--you
have to consider computers, you have to consider televisions,
iPods, you know, whatever it is that they're doing, you have to
count all of that when you're talking about screen time.
When you're talking about younger children, use of the
computer is pretty close to the use of any other, you know,
entertainment media, so thinking about all of that and looking at
the purpose of our technology, we recommend that you use
technology to do things you can't do other ways.
So for instance, I'm always amazed by, well "edu-tainment"
they call it--so that's education through
entertainment--which, you know, fine, whatever.
I try to do that myself, I try to be somewhat entertaining,
I have videos, things like that, but the education that young
children need is not found on a screen so I always tell the
story about the learning to dress yourself program for
pre-school children--that is a computer program.
And so it's a stick person standing here like this, and
then there are clothes and you drag the clothes, you know, to
where they go, so you drag the hat to the head and it'll stay
there if you drag it to the tummy, you know, it goes back
where it came from, so that it helps
children know where clothes go.
Which, you know, really?
And these are the same people that will dress a
child, complain if a child undresses itself and then put
him in front of a computer screen to learn where clothes
go, so, you know, really don't do things
like that, that's just silly.
We need to let children do what they can do.
Use technology to do things that you can't do, so for instance,
I don't have a lion in my house or access to a lion.
If I want children to hear what a lion sounds like or see a
lion, that's a really good way to go to technology, and look it
up and show them videos, photos, audio of a lion, not to learn to
dress yourself, not to learn the coloring books, you know.
Things like that, those are all just silly, don't do that.
It's very comparable to passive viewing.
A lot of the games that they have that they say are education
are very comparable to passive viewing, and then rote learning
is just not productive.
I always tell the story of my little son who came to visit my
class years ago when I taught child development, and I said,
"Lee, do you know the days of the week".
And he said "Yes, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,
Friday, Saturday, Sunday".
I said "You do know your days of the week.
Today's Wednesday, what day is tomorrow?
And he looked at me and said "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday,
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday"
And I said, so basically, I'm not real,
I mean he's cute, of course he's the cutest child in the world,
I was very proud of him, but he didn't know his
days of the week, you know.
He knew the words, which is called rote learning,
and that's not productive, that's not impressive.
I'm not impressed when children know their ABC's particularly.
You know, they'll learn that.
I'm impressed if they know heavy and light and know that you
can't put something really heavy on top of something light
without squishing it.
I think it's good when they know that you don't bite somebody
when they have something you want, you know.
Those are the type of skills that I'm impressed with as
opposed to just memorization, and that's
what computers do for us basically.
To avoid unintended use, locating--this is just a huge
thing--just put the computers in a central location of the house
so that children are not off by themselves using them, and then,
you know, if you're always going to be around, they're very
likely not to be doing things that
they shouldn't do with computers.
So I say if you do nothing at all that I tell you to do, don't
allow children to have technology in their
bedrooms--that's just the number one thing that you should.
Oh, let's see--oh, I've already said this.
Use only to represent what can't be represented, so I've already
said that--I jumped ahead.
But like I said, we need to use our technology to enhance what
we have, not to replace what we could do in relationships.
So this is our little FYI informational piece, and this is
our closing picture.
These are just beautiful photographs that Frances has
chosen for you.
One more photograph--oh yes, these are Frances' children that
she likes to, you can tell them.
>> Dr. Murphy: So, the contrast between the
current contemporary Egypt and the background,
the historic, now is in the hands of the children.
>> Dr. Meadows: Thank you.
[audience applause]
>> Dr. Wahby: I can use this one.
Well, thank you very much for your presentation.
Any questions from the audience?
I have just a hypothetical question.
What do you think is the difference in the mental
processes of a child who is, today, having his magic thing
and very busy, and mommy asks him to do something and says
'Mommy, I'm very busy, I'm all absorbed here'.
What goes in his mind or her mind, as a child, in comparison
to a child in ancient Egypt who has got this prism of rare rock
that has many colors, and she is so absorbed in it--so my
comparison is absorbment or something, being absorbed.
And the guy in ancient Egypt 5,000 years ago who says 'Mommy.
I'm so busy now, leave me alone'.
Same thing here after 5,000 years.
What do you think is the difference, or no difference in
the processes, in the mind processes?
Here's a mic for any of you.
>> Ms. Meadows: You're right, it's very true.
Children are hard to, it's hard to pull children away once they
get involved in technology, we all know that, but it's hard to
pull children away from anything they enjoy doing, and so the
difference would be that it's an external motivation when they're
dealing with technology.
When somebody is doing something for them and they're responding
to something, then it's external, whereas if they have
to manipulate the items--whatever that might be,
you know--building something with rocks, water and, you know,
wet and dry, things like that--whenever they're
manipulating it, then they're forming the processes and
thinking from one item to the next.
It's like cause and effect, you know, the issues like that that
they can really think through.
So it's more of an external motivation instead of an
internal motivation when you are dealing with modern technology.
What we see and what the research shows us repeatedly is
a shortage in attention span, and we're seeing that, I think,
at the university level.
It's beginning to come up to the university level, so
short attention span, inability to problem solve, you know,
wanting people to do things for them.
What do I have to do to make this happen as opposed to
let's talk about it, let's figure out what you have to do
to make things happen.
So it's more the external--do you have anything
to add to that?
>> Dr. Murphy: No, that's excellent.
>> Dr. Wahby: Is it a myth that
people in this generation, or children of this generation,
can multitask--quote, unquote--and do four, five
things at a time perfectly--quote,
unquote--or is it a myth?
>> Ms. Meadows: It is actually a myth because
I just saw some recent research.
I can't remember the researcher's name, but what they
found was people are able to multitask but their productivity
in each of the things that they're doing actually goes
down, so the quality does go down.
Even though they are able to do it, the quality goes down, so
that, I thought, was a very important
experiment to be able to do.
And people have always multitasked.
We saw the photograph of the woman who was feeding the baby
and picking a fig, I mean, you know, that's multitasking.
So we've always done that, it's just that we multitask
externally and so overwhelmingly with the jangles and, different
parts of our brain are used with the external motivation.
>> Dr. Wahby: I think this is very
important, if you agree with me, that we have
to define what multitasking is because I
can click on printer to print 1,000 pages and push on my
microwave in a second to cook my meal for half an hour and then
turn off the lights and do this, [unclear dialogue]
things that are multitaskable.
To listen to you, I have to give you my full attention.
I can't listen to you while texting or doing this or that.
>> Ms. Meadows: Right, exactly, exactly.
>> Dr. Wahby: [unclear dialogue], if they
have a problem, they're hurting and they come to you
and you say 'okay, I'm listening, I'm listening'
and they say 'please, give me your attention, look at me'.
>> Ms. Meadows: Right, attention span
[unclear dialogue].
>> Dr. Wahby: They want you to look
them in the eye, don't do anything else while
I'm complaining or I'm hurting because I can't
accept multitasking in this.
Any other questions or comments?
Very interesting topic.
Very good, thank you very much.
[audience applause]
[no dialogue].