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The ancient Egyptian terms for marriage (meni, "to moor [a boat]," and grg pr, "to found a house") convey the sense that the arrangement was about property.

Texts indicate that the groom often gave the bride's family a gift, and he also gave his wife presents.

Compare the legal weight of marriage among the ancient Egyptians with marriage practice in other cultures.

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One text (Ostracon Petrie 18), however, recounts the divorce of a woman who abandoned her sick husband, and in the resulting judgment she was forced to renounce all their joint property.

If the husband left the marriage he was liable to a fine or payment of support (analogous to alimony), and in many cases he forfeited his share of the joint property.

Apparently once a couple started living together, they were acknowledged to be married. He [her husband] slept with me that night and found me pleasing.

As related in the story of Setne, "I was taken as a wife to the house of Naneferkaptah [that night, and pharaoh] sent me a present of silver and gold . He slept with me again and again and we loved each other" (Lichtheim 1980: 128).

Additionally, women could serve on juries, testify in trials, inherit real estate, and disinherit ungrateful children.

Last modified 16-Jan-2017 23:16