The present volume publishes the sixteen contributions to an international and interdisciplinary symposium which was held in Bern in April 2004, organized by the editor in cooperation with the Swiss Society for Ancient Near Eastern Studies. Participants responded in a multitude of ways to the guiding question of the "Value of Pictures as a Source for the Reconstruction of Women’s History in Antiquity”. Some surveyed an area of research in order to formulate feminist or gender-orientated hermeneutics allowing modern scholars to "read" pictures from ancient cultures. Others focused on themes (such as nakedness and nudity) or images of particular types of women (such as empresses, mothers, or priestesses) in order to work out the principles of ancient art and their implications for gender issues. Images are culturally codified as much as texts. This conference sought to define their specific "agenda" and to free the approach to images from the constraints of textual interpretation, which still dominates research on the ancient world.
This outstanding and pioneering collection offers fundamental insights from the latest gender research into the iconography of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Palestine/Israel, Greece and Rome.