The status of Viking women may be underestimated due to the way we interpret burial findings.
“To assume that Viking men were ranked above women is to impose modern values on the past, which would be misleading,” cautions Marianne Moen. She has been studying how women’s status and power is expressed through Viking burial findings. Her master’s thesis The Gendered Landscape argues that viking gender roles may have been more complex than we assume.
Exploring new perspectives of Viking society is a theme which also will be the focus of the forthcoming Viking Worlds conference in March 2013, where Moen is a member of the organising committee. Read more.
““The first person [the Spanish] met was a woman,” Patel said, “The first thing they thought was, What kind of a [people] would leave a woman to make first contact?’ They refused to talk with her, so a man had to come and deal with them.””
—New research shows ancient Maya women were powerful leaders - Archeaology Daily (via goodbyeolepaint)
Also from the article:
"One of the great things about archaeological research is that it can show us how different life was in the past and how it is in the future," [Cynthia Robin, professor of anthropology at Northwestern University] said. "So if we assume that gender relations were always the same then we’re just kind of justifying the inequalities that exist today."
And from a different article on the topic:
"Women lost their status and authority with the advent of colonialism," [Patel] said. "The Spaniards didn’t understand female leaders and they squashed pagan religions. They branded women healers and diviners as witches. They talked about them as improper women who spoke for their men.
Our society is so patriarchal, and archaeologists often don’t realize how that affects the way they look at the past. What we say about the past is important to the people who live there today. It’s political how you talk about people in the past. If you say women are subjugated today because they always have been, that’s a way of justifying what’s happening today. If you can show that was not true, that it happened because of colonialism, there is opportunity for new interpretations of history and for change to occur.”