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TheendoftheNeolithicrevolution,around5000to3000BCE,wasmarkedbyyearsof

gradual,yetprofoundhumandevelopment.Asegalitarianhuntergatherersadoptedsettled
agriculture,humansbegantheprocessofsocietalspecialization.Withasurplusoffoodstuffs,
huntergatherersnowbecamesettledthinkers,withtimetofocusonthedevelopmentof
technology,religion,art,societalorganizationandeconomicspecialization.Humanitythereafter
developedwiththeebbandflowofvarioussocietiesandempires,eachmorecomplexthanthe
previous.Andashumanitydeveloped,sodidthought,andwiththought,custom.Comparing
earlyHarappanandlaterHanconceptionsofgendershedslightonhumandevelopment.Early
IndusValleycivilizationreflectedamoreegalitarianviewofgenderequalitywhereasthelater
RomanageHanreflectedamorepatriarchalone.

IndusValleycivilizationbeganaround5000BCE,withthefirstcitiesestablishedaround

26002500BCE.Harappansocietyreacheditszenitharound23001900BCEanddeclinedin
19001750BCE(Lockard,42)thankstoacombinationofenvironmentalchangeandinternal,
economicbreakdown.
Liketheearlierhuntergathererpeoplesthatprecededrivervalleysettlement,
IndusValleysocietyveneratedgodsandgoddesseswhomtheyassociatedwithcreationand
procreation(Bentley,62).Indeed,clayfigurinesexcavatedhaveafemaletheme,andsome
figurineswithexaggeratedbreastsandhipsmayhaverepresentedamothergoddess(Lockard,
45).Otherexcavationshaveunearthedfiguresofwomenwearingstatusbearingheaddresses
whilestranglingfelines(Clark,250).Somefigurines,bigenderedfusionsofmaleandfemale
form,probablysymbolizedaHarappanconceptofduality,possiblyreflectingtheintegrationof

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maleandfemaleinamorenuancednotionofsex/gender(Clark,256).Morerecentfindings
showthatthemajorityofbodiesburiedinHarappancemeteriesweremenburiednearwomen
nativetothearea,suggestingthatmenmovedinwiththeirbrides(Watson).Women,
therefore,seemedtogarneradegreeofrespectneverachievedinlatersocieties.

TheHanEmpire,theresultofsuccessfulrevoltsagainstthedespoticQindynasty,lasted

foroverfourhundredyears.ArevitalizationofConfucianthought,theformativeHanempire
wouldleaveanenduringmarkonChinesehistoryforever.However,witheconomic
overextensionandoverspending,theHanwouldatlastdeclinearound220CEtomakewayfor
theThreeKingdomsandSixDynastiesandsubsequentSuiandTangdynasties(Lockard,121).

TheHansconceptionofgenderwas,bydefinition,theantithesisofthemothergoddess

conceivedinearlyIndusideology.WhereastheHarappanpeoplewouldveneratethelifegiving
woman,theConfucianHanwouldveneratethefamilialpatriarch(Bulliet,162).Asiscleverly
statedbyLockard,womenwereexpectedtobedevotedfirsttotheirparents,thenlatertotheir
husband,andfinallytotheirsons(Lockard,131).Indeed,thehierarchyinthestatemirrored
the[patriarchal]hierarchyinthefamilypeasants,soldiers,administrators,andrulersallmade
distinctivecontributionstothewelfareofsociety(Bulliet,162)andasecretwriting,knownas
Nuxu,woulddevelopinresponsetothesorrowsassociatedwithmaledomination.However,
Bulliet,asdoesLockard,wouldqualifythestatement:awomansstatusdependedonher
locationwithinvarioussocialinstitutions(Bulliet,162)i.e.awomansrolewasnot
necessarilyfixed.Ironically,onepreeminentfemalefigure,BanZhao,advocatedthatfemales
oughttomoldthemselvestothetraditional,patriarchalviewofConfucianthought:Thefemale
oughttoobeythemale.Lockardwouldunderscorethisironybymakingthepointthataswealth

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andstatusdecrease,femaleinfluenceinthefamilyincreases:malepowerwasstrongestat
theelitelevelandoftenweakeramongthelowerclasses(Lockard,132).Nevertheless,the
femalewascertainlyrestricted,andcertainlynotpraised,bothinandoutofthehome.

Bycomparingthesetwodisparatesocieties,onegainsinsightintothehistorical

developmentoftheideaofthefemale.InearlyPaleolithicandMesolithicsocietiesthefemale
wasinstrumentalinthecraftingoftoolsandthegatheringofnecessaryfooditems.Early
humanity,therefore,idealizedthefemaleassomethingtobepraised,tobeappreciated.
Whatsmore,thefemaleembodiedtheideaoffertilityandlife,assymbolizedbyearlyfemale
deities.Predictably,societiesimmediatelyfollowingtheNeolithicrevolutionwouldatfirst
venerateandrespectthefemaleandthenplaceherinpositionsofbothideologicalandsecular
powerpatternsevidencedinearlyHarappancivilization.Butastimewouldpass,thefemale
wouldbeginherdescentintomalerepressionasiswhathappenedinthetransitionbetween
HarappanandAryanIndiaandbetweenHarappanandHansociety.Intellectualthoughtand
philosophywouldthenbegintofavorthemale,asisevidencedinaxialagePlatonicand
Confucianthought,andthatphilosophywouldthen,inturn,shapesociety,asisevidencedbythe
Han.Onlyuntilrecentlywouldwomeneverregainthestatusandopportunitiestheyoncehadin
earlyMesolithic,PaleolithicandNeolithicsocieties.

WorksCited
Bentley,JerryH.
TraditionsandEncounters:AGlobalPerspectiveonthePast
.2nded.N.p.:
McGrawHillHumanities,2010.Print.Thistext,likeBulliets,offersanalternative

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perspectiveonHarappansociety.Itallowedmetodeterminewhichaspectsof
Harappansocietyaredeemedmostimportantbymosttextbooks.
Bulliet,RichardW.
TheEarthandIt'sPeoplesAGlobalHistoryApEdition
.3rded.N.p.:
WadsworthPub,2010.Print.ThesametextbookIusednotbutfouryearsagoinhigh
school,
TheEarthanditsPeoples
offerssubstantialinsightintotohowHansociety
treatedwomen.Interestingly,whileonlytreatingHarappansocietyinacursory
fashion,BullietseemstodevotemorecoveragetoHansocietythanLockard.
Regardless,LockardandBullietmakethesameoverallpointsaboutHansociety.
Clark,SharriR."MaterialMatters:RepresentationandMaterialityoftheHarappanBody."
JournalofArchaeologicalMethodandTheory
16.3,TheMaterialityofRepresentation
(2009):23161.
JSTOR
.Web.15Oct.2014.
<http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/40346016?ref=noxroute:e209638587f05c07db
4b34415c86c0fd>.ThisjournaloffersafairlyindepthanalysisofHarappanart.A
substantialportionofthejournaldiscussesfemaledepictionthroughartisticfigurines
anditssocietalandideologicalimplications.
Lockard,CraigA.
Societies,Networks,andTransitionsAGlobalHistory
.1sted.N.p.:Cengage
Learning,2008.Print.Muchofmyoverallknowledgeisgatheredfromlectureand
particularlythisbook.Thereforeonlydirectquoteswerecitedastoavoidredundancy.
Watson,Traci."SurprisingDiscoveriesFromtheIndusCivilization."
NationalGeographic
.
NationalGeographicSociety,29Apr.2013.Web.13Oct.2014.Whilefocusingon
violenceinearlyIndusvalleycivilization,thisarticleoffersfairlyinsightful

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informationastohowHarappanwomenwereplacedinsociety,asexemplifiedby
recentarchaeologicalfindings.