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Curing Cut or Ritual Mutilation?: Some Remarks on the Practice of Female and Male Circumcision in Graeco-Roman Egypt

Mary Knight
Isis
Vol. 92, No. 2 (Jun., 2001), pp. 317-338
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3080631
Page Count: 22
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Curing Cut or Ritual Mutilation?: Some Remarks on the Practice of Female and Male Circumcision in Graeco-Roman Egypt
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Abstract

Ancient texts and archaeological artifacts provide the starting point for a review of the surgical aspects of female genital mutilation (FGM) in ancient Egypt. Analysis of the ancient surgical procedure incorporates modern experience on the subject as well as ancient literary and cultural perspectives. Comparison of FGM with ancient Egyptian male circumcision and consideration of motivations for the practice contribute to our understanding of FGM. In particular, the documented association between male circumcision and generative ability suggests a novel comparison with a natural process in the female-the breaking of the hymen on first intromission-and ultimately a new hypothesis for the origin of ancient FGM.

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