Fibers and Functions: The Participation and Representation of Men and Women in Sacrificial Processions on Attic Vases dating from the Sixth and Fifth Century B.C.
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On Attic vases dating from the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. numerous depictions of religious activities can be found. The starting point of this research is based on a new concept that came into being in the academic field on what it meant to be an Athenian citizen, which emphasizes not only political participation of the demos, but moreover stresses the importance of participation in the religious sphere of the polis for men as well as women. Sacrificial procession scenes on Attic vases derived from the sixth and fifth century B.C. form the basis for an investigation on the extent to which men and women participated equally in this type of religious activity. Besides issues regarding gender and function divisions, attention is given to the way in which the participants of sacrificial procession scenes are fashioned, in particular whether or not there were certain types of dress-, hairstyles and personal adornments that were illustrative for figures carrying out particular functions or roles that were previously determined. This may give the modern interpreter some additional insight regarding the people who wore them. An interesting outcome regarding gender and function divisions in sacrificial procession scenes is that most functions and roles were carried out by both men and women, albeit in varying degree, since more men are depicted participating in procession scenes than women. The analysis of the iconographical depiction of dress-, hairstyles and personal adornments may be helpful in the construction of gender, age as well as the social classes that the participants may have belonged to. However, fashion in itself cannot be interpreted as a decisive factor for the identification of figures fulfilling certain functions. Other aspects such as attributes and positioning of figures within the procession scenes as well as literary sources and inscriptions have to be taken into account as well. Moreover, the iconographic representation of participants in sacrificial procession scenes does not visibly distinguish between citizens and non-citizens. However, this is not necessarily a problem for the argument presented in this thesis, since procession scenes were likely to depict Athenian citizens given that they were the core-group of Athenian society.