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Health and wellbeing in the ancient world
Health and wellbeing in the ancient world

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Becoming pregnant and giving birth were very important parts of the life of a woman in the ancient world, and this week you’ve considered how women would have learned about their roles. Men, too, had roles to play, not only in fathering babies – and there were different views about how women and men contributed to making a child – but also in assisting with birth.

Carved relief of a mother holding a child who is wrapped in swaddling clothes, while another woman supports the child’s head and back.
Figure 16 Carved relief of a seated mother and her child

You have also learned about a ritual called the arkteia – a word which comes from the term for bear, arktos – and the idea that the bear is a ‘good mother’ because she literally ‘shapes’ her cub. Next week you will consider the production of the ideal body in more detail, focusing on the mobility of the body in relation to health.