Beautiful Bodies: Gender and Corporeal Aesthetics in the Past [Paperback]

Uroš Matić (Editor)

ISBN: 9781789257717 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2022 | Language: English 320p, H240 x W170 (mm) B/w

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Beautiful Bodies


This book explores the role of material culture in the formation of corporeal aesthetics and beauty ideals in different past societies and thus contributes to the cultural relativization of bodily aesthetics and related gender norms. The volume does not explore beauty for the sake of beauty, but extensively explores how it serves to form and keep gender norms in place. The concept of beauty has been a topic of interest for some time, yet it is only in recent times that archaeologists have begun to approach beauty as a culturally contingent and socially constructed phenomenon. Although archaeologists and ancient historians extensively dealt with gender, they dealt less with it in relation to beauty. The contributions in this volume deal with different intersections of gender and corporeal aesthetics by turning to rich archaeological, textual and iconographic data from ancient Sumer, Aegean Bronze Age, ancient Egypt, ancient Athens, Roman provinces, the Viking world and the Qajar Iran. Beauty thus moves away from a curiosity and surface of the body to an analytic concept for a better understanding of past and present societies.

Table of Contents

1. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: an introduction to gender and corporeal aesthetics in the past
Uroš Matić
2. The Queen’s beauty: leadership as an aesthetic and embodied practice in ancient Mesopotamia
Helga Vogel
3. Beauty treatments and gender in Pharaonic Egypt: masculinities and femininities in public and private spaces
Uroš Matić
4. An unknown ancient Egyptian tool (for wig maintenance?)
Kira Zumkley
5. Fresco, fresco on the wall... changes in ideals of beauty in the Late Bronze Age Aegean
Filip Franković
6. Gender, perfume and society in ancient Athens
Isabelle Algrain
7. Mirrors in the funerary contexts of Moesia Superior: Roman hegemony, beauty and gender
Vladimir D. Mihajlović
8. Looking for trouble: beautiful bodies in Viking Age Scandinavia, c. 750 to 1050 AD
Bo Jensen
9. From moon-faced amrads to farangi-looking women: beauty transformations from the 19th to early 20th century in Iran  
Mariam Dezamkhooy
10. Afterword: a deep time perspective on bodily beauty  
Katharina Rebay-Salisbury

Reviews & Quotes

"The volume is well-illustrated and images are both high quality and relevant to the discussions. Archaeological data, for example the list of tools studied by Zumkley, is presented clearly and thoroughly."
Vega Boney-Hundal
Archaeological Review from Cambridge (27/03/2023)

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