Skip to main content
Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful
Save up to 20% on the price of your tickets!

It's easy... Become a member today! If you are already a member, log in to access your member rate.

Triumph and Resilience: Ancient and Historical Women in Afghanistan

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Tuesday, March 29, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1K0225
Select Your Tickets
$20 - Member
$25 - Non-Member
Reserving your tickets...

Afghan women in Afghanistan (Photo: Ben Barber, USAID)

Current debates about women in Afghanistan suggest that they were subjugated for centuries until the arrival of western armies and aid workers. Anthropologist and archaeologist Sandra Scham reaches deep into the country’s past to reveal the complex and surprising stories of women revolutionaries, freedom fighters, intellectuals, and rulers who were instrumental in creating a country that by the 1960s was making great strides toward achieving its own version of modernization.

What happened? Scham, an anthropologist and archaeologist at Catholic University and the University of Maryland, discusses the answer. Although continuous conflict has hampered archaeological explorations in Afghanistan, there is a record of powerful women in civilizations dating back to the 3rd millennium B.C. in the region.  

Figurines from the Oxus civilization of elaborately dressed “Bactrian Princesses” are a testament to the role of women in this early urban society. Later in antiquity, one of these princesses, Roxana, became the consort of Alexander the Great, and more remarkably, the favorite of his indomitable mother Olympias. 

Afghan women were poet laureates, mighty queens, advisors to the crown, warriors, and diplomats for several thousand years. In the 20th century, Afghan Queen Soraya Tarzi became a beloved champion of women’s rights and a national heroine. Taking the long-term view of women in this region, Scham reveals that their story as told by archaeology and history is a complex and surprising one.

Patron Information

  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.
  • Unless otherwise noted, registration for streaming programs typically closes two hours prior to the start time on the date of the program.
  • Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from
  • Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
  • View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.