Mesopotamian Marriage Contract, 1700 BCE European History

Mesopotamian Marriage Contract, 1700 BCE Marriage was one of the earliest legal documents. As civilizations began to craft ideas of ownership, the rather egalitarian format of Neolithic societies began to skew in favor of a more elite, wealthy group. This group sought to protect its assets, including property, honor among men and women, future care and responsibilities, and slave holdings. In this contract, we see that the two parties are sketching out ideal solutions for future possible problems, from infertility to divorce. Laqipum has married Hatala, daughter of Enishru. In the country (Central Anatolia) Laqipum may not marry another woman but in the City (Ashur) he may marry a hierodule (a temple slave). If within two years Hatala does not provide him with offspring, she herself will purchase a slave woman, and later on, after [the slave woman] will have produced a child by him, he may then dispose of her by sale wheresoever he pleases. Should Laqipum choose to divorce her (Hatala), he must pay her five minas of silver and should Hatala choose to divorce him, she must pay him five minas of silver. Witnesses: Masa, Ashurishtikal, Talia, Shupianika. (Questions: What do we learn about the Mesopotamian ideas of marriage? Was marriage only between two people? What were the primary concerns of marriage? If one party was miserable after getting married, was divorce an option? Write 150 words considering what we can tell about history based on this document. Feel free to add your own thoughts about why this sort of marriage contract was practical.

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