Throughout written history, women have experienced status subservient to the men they lived with. Generally, most cultures known to modern historians followed a standard pattern of males assigned the role of protector and provider while women were assigned roles of domestic servitude. Scholars speculate endlessly at the cause: biology, religion, and social custom. Nevertheless, the women were always subordinated to the men in their culture. Through their artwork, tomb inscriptions, and papyrus and leather scrolls, preserved in the dry, desert air, Ancient Egyptians left evidence for scholars suggesting that Egypt was once a peculiar exception to this pattern. Anthropological evidence suggests that unusual circumstances in Ancient Egyptian culture provided for women to be given equal status to their male counterparts: notably, matrilineal inheritance and emphasis on the joy of family life over maintaining ethnic purity.
Legally, women in Ancient Egypt held the same legal rights as men. A woman could own property and manage it as she saw fit. One example of this, the Inscription of Mes, provided scholars with proof that women could manage property, institute litigation, and could act as a witness before a court of law. Surviving court documents not only showed that women were free to take action with the court, but the documents also show that they frequently won their cases. They could also enter contracts and travel freely, unescorted, throughout the state. This is a great contrast to women in Greece, who were required to act through a male representative. Interestingly, property and its administration were passed from mother to daughter, matrilineally. The Egyptians relied on matrilineal heritage, based on the assumption that maternal ancestors are less disputable than paternal ones. The effect of legal equality in writing and practice coupled with the ownership and administration of property led to an ensured equality.