Marks of Gender and Accidents of Preservation


Many representations of human beings from ancient Egypt were gendered in some way. Such images were intended and recognizable as either male or female, along with a few other gender categories discussed under "Other Genders." Aside from representations of difference in biological sex, gender could be indicated in Egyptian art by position of human figures with respect to each other, relative size, and color differences. Thus seemingly ungendered representations of people almost always indicate that the image is unfinished, incomplete, or damaged in such a way as to remove the signs of gender (obvious or not) from it. Few objects from ancient Egypt have reached us in perfect condition so it is not surprising that in many representations of people the gender is uncertain. Some images, however, were not explicitly gendered, often to serve the very practical expedient of being able to represent any gender.

Go to images of artifacts.