Podcast Season 3, Episode 3 – Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves: Mesopotamian Free Women with Stephanie Budin

Dr. Budin sits in a chair looking at a screen in the Starship Enterprise
Dr. Stephanie Budin

On this episode of the Peopling the Past podcast, we speak with Dr. Stephanie Budin, an independent scholar researching gender and the lives of women in the ancient Mediterranean, particularly the ancient Near East. She is the author and editor of several books on the position of women in the ancient Mediterranean, including Freewomen, Patriarchal Authority, and the Accusation of Prostitution (2021, Routledge) and the edited volume Women in Antiquity: Real Women Across the Ancient World (2016, Routledge). She is also editor-in-chief of Near Eastern Archaeology. 

Listen in, as Dr. Budin speaks to us about the free women of ancient Mesopotamia who were able to escape the bounds of patriarchal society, and were living a sexually liberated life, under their own authority.

Interested in learning more? Check out this related work by Dr. Budin:

Freewomen, Patriarchal Authority, and the Accusation of Prostitution. Routledge Press, London, UK 2021 

Looking for a transcript of this episode? Click here.
A drawing of the Ishtar Seal. Ishtar stands in the middle, flanked by a woman on either side, and other symbols
Ishtar Seal (Akkadian Period) : Oriental Institute A 27903, drawing by Paul C. Butler 
Two lovers are entwined, carved in  terracotta
Erotic Terracotta (Old Babylonian): British Museum BM 115719 
Two people sit in a tavern, drinking alcohol out of a shared vessel with reed straws
Tavern Seal (Early Dynastic Kafajeh): Oriental Institute A 11464 (accession # 1513) 
Additional Materials Related to this Podcast


Gender in the Ancient Near East. Routledge Press, London, UK. Forthcoming 

Freewomen, Patriarchal Authority, and the Accusation of Prostitution. Routledge Press, London, UK 2021 

Women in Antiquity: Real Women Across the Ancient World. Routledge Press. London, UK. (Co-edited with Jean MacIntosh Turfa) 2016 

The Myth of Sacred Prostitution in Antiquity. CUP. Cambridge, UK. 2008. Near Eastern Archaeology 79.3, special issue on gender archaeology, guest co- edited with Dr. Jennifer Webb of Latrobe University. 2016 


“Prostitution, Religion, and Morality.” In Alison Glazebrook (ed.) A Cultural History of Prostitution, volume 1. Bloomsbury Publishing, London, UK. Forthcoming  

“Jar Handles, Nudity, and the Female.” In Budin, Cifarelli, Garcia-Ventura and Millet Albá (eds.) Gender, Methodology and the Ancient Near East. Proceedings of the Second Workshop held in Barcelona, February 1-3 2017. Barcino. Monographica Orientalia, IPOA (Institut del Pròxim Orient Antic) y Universitat de Barcelona Edicions. 2019 

“Finding a World of Women: An Introduction to Women’s Studies and Gender Theory in Biblical Archaeology” In A. Yasur-Landau, E. Cline, and Y. M. Rowan (eds.) The Social Archaeology of the Levant: From Prehistory to the Present. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, UK. 2019 

“Prostitución secular y prostitución sagrada en la antigua Mesopotamia.” In Josué J. Justel & Agnès Garcia-Ventura (eds) Las mujeres en el Oriente cuneiforme, Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Alcalá, Alcalá de Henares, 241–266. 2018 

“Female Sexuality in Mesopotamia,” “Maternity in Ancient Cyprus,” and 

“Maternity in the Bronze Age Aegean.” In S.L. Budin and J.M. Turfa (eds.) Women in Antiquity: Real Women Across the Ancient World. Routledge Press. London, UK, 9–24, 361–374, 595–607. 2016 

“The Nude Female in the Southern Levant: A Mixing of Syro-Mesopotamian and Egyptian Iconographies.” In C. Doumet-Serhal (ed.) Cult and Ritual on the Levantine Coast and its Impact on the Eastern Mediterranean Realm. BAAL Hors-Série X. Beirut, 315–335. 2015 

“Before Kypris was Aphrodite.” In D. Sugimoto (ed.) Transformation of a Goddess: Ishtar—Astarte—Aphrodite. Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis 263, 195–215. 2014 

“Maternity, Children, and ‘Mother Goddesses’ in Minoan Iconography.” Journal of Prehistoric Religion XXII, 6–38. 2010  

Published by Peopling the Past

A Digital Humanities initiative that hosts free, open-access resources for teaching and learning about real people in the ancient world and the people who study them.

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