In the annals of the Neo-Assyrian kings (from the tenth to the seventh centuries BCE) there is mention of a curious group of leaders called the ‘Queens of the Arabs’. Female rulers in the Ancient Near East are very unusual, and their treatment in the royal inscriptions points to them being viewed as similar to male rulers. My thesis explores why this was the case, particularly using Michael Mann’s model of power. Here ‘power’ is divided into four ‘spheres’: ‘ideological’, ‘economic’, ‘military’, and ‘political’.
The actions of the ‘Queens of the Arabs’ that have been recorded can explicitly be seen in three of these: ‘ideological’, ‘economic’, and ‘military’. The final ‘sphere’ (‘political’) is not demonstrated explicitly, but through an exploration of each of the other three ‘spheres’ it is clear that these ‘Queens of the Arabs’ held power in the ‘political’ sphere.
The second analytical tool will be gender theory. As these women were ruling in a region an period of time where the majority of the rulers were male, gender theory will enable us to see how the rulers of the Neo-Assyrian empire treated and viewed these female rulers. The very fact that these women were treated in a similar manner to male foreign rulers informs us that these women were seen as equal to other male kings.
These methods will be boosted by the integration of both textual and archaeological data from the Arabian Peninsula, which often has been overlooked in the field of Assyriology. My thesis will therefore aim to bridge the gap between Assyriology and Arabian Studies in order to create a more accurate view to the roles of the ‘Queens of the Arabs’ in ‘Arab’ society as well as misconceptions and errors in the Neo-Assyrian texts.