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Book: Case Studies in the Silk Roads Archaeology

Chapter: 9. The Lack of Representation of Menstruation in Archaeological Studies: A Consideration of Beliefs, Customs, and the Silk Road

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.42856


Menstruation has been scarcely studied within archaeology and as such lacks representation. Although previous studies explored related fields of fertility rites and rituals, depictions of the female body, and social divisions, menstruation has not been considered a viable topic. Concepts of purity and impurity during menstruating are however recorded in several ancient civilisations that arguably exchanged and adopted new religious and cultural norms as a result of the trade networks. The present research, therefore, determines types of archaeological evidence concerning the female menstrual cycle. This is accomplished by way of analysing menstrual structures, seclusions or rituals, and archaeobotanical remains in relation to the Silk Road. The analysis of these concepts is important in firstly, understanding the belief systems from the past. Secondly, the study may reveal important information on aspects of the past such as divisions of labour and community organisation. Finally, by analysing the views and beliefs surrounding menstruation in contemporary society, we can challenge our own biases and highlight the importance of the study of menstruation in the past.

Chapter Contributors

  • Dulcie Sidney Daffodil Newbury ( - dnewbury) 'University of Bradford'
  • Karina Croucher ( - kcroucher) 'University of Bradford'