How the institution of marriage worked ancient Egypt

Robert Garland, a Ph. D. researcher at Colgate University in the United States of America wrote an article on the website The Great Courses DailyMarriage in Ancient Egypt: The Egyptian Family System… and through which he conveyed many wonderful facts about the family in ancient Egypt, I share a lot of what he wrote.

The ancient Egyptians were very concerned about the formation of the family, but marriage was a personal choice, where a couple decided when they wanted to marry. In addition, multiple marriages were acceptable to them.

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Marriage was a personal choice in ancient Egypt and divorce present, albeit limited.

It may seem that in a conservative society like Ancient Egypt, marriage was a forced decision that the family made for the younger generation, but the truth is, he indicates otherwise. Inscriptions in the (city of workers) area in Deir el-Medina in Luxor confirm that Deir el-Medina workers were choosing their life partners, and after agreeing to “marriage,” they would inform the parents and close friends of the decision.

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The typical age of men for marriage was about 20 years. The chosen girl was usually much younger: maybe 12 or 13 years old. It has been met in the fields, markets, or streets. However, love was a valuable emotion, and Egyptian poetry is a testament to this. After several times, the young man suggests marrying the girl. If she agrees, he will go to her home to get engaged to her from her father.

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Evidence indicates that there is no formal marriage ceremony. However, there was a contract between the spouses to transfer the property, which made them bound by each other.

Divorce was also present, if not preferred. In the event of a divorce, the wife was entitled to a third of the marital property. However, some men divorced the wife from home without respecting the rules and impotence.

One of the aims of marriage in ancient Egypt was to increase the offspring. The presence of six or seven children was the norm, but the presence of ten or more was also uncommon. The ideal was that the wife would become pregnant shortly after marriage. Children were desirable, but there was no evidence that the boy preferred the girl.

Moreover, if the wife does not become pregnant after a while, there are some solutions. The first solution was to buy a magic spell. Magic played an important role in Egypt and was believed to have solved many problems, including pregnancy difficulties. Besides, a woman can pray to the goddess Hathor, the goddess who took the form of a cow. Hathor closely related to women and fertility. If Hathor could not do anything, the couple would have adopted children.

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Some babies were born dead or died within a few months after birth. The cause of the high infant mortality rate was not only diseases but also snakes and scorpions.

When the couple decided that they had enough children, they were moving towards contraceptives. The most common way was for the wife to cover her vagina with crocodile dung.

Egyptian women had the right to inherit, own land, manage their own businesses, and could file a lawsuit, work on a jury, or testify at trial. Moreover, they can work in the field, sell goods in the market, and weave the cloth professionally.

Wives were treated with respect and found the nebet nickname meaning “responsible, lover or lady of the house.” However, a man can have more than one wife, and usually, it belongs only to the upper social class.

However, when she dies, it is common for the couple to be buried in the same grave. The idea was to stay in marriage between them forever.

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