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Women in Mesopotamia

Outlines the treatment and roles of women in Mesopotamia.

Christopher Pickard

on 23 February 2011

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Transcript of Women in Mesopotamia

Women in Mesopotamia Women in mesopotamia were for the most part, not equal to men. The rights of women were different in different parts of Mesopotamia's history. This is a general history of the rights women had in Mesopotamia. For example, in the Assyrian era (700 BCE-609 BCE), women's rights and freedom's were not many. Shortly after a girl reached puberty, she was considered a woman, and ready to be married. A woman's parents, and the parents of her husband to be would arrange the marriage. In the ceremony, the groom would pour perfume over the head of the bride. The husband would also give money and presents to the family of the bride. Once the couple were enganged, the bride was considered part of her fiancé's family. If the groom died before the wedding, the bride would marry another male relative, such as a brother, or cousin. The mesopotamian woman's role was traditionaly always the same. The woman was her father's daughter, or the wife of her husband. Following these expectations, all women were to be mothers, and were responsible for holding the household domestic life style together. There was a large difference in the life styles of high and low status women. Women with powerful husbands, and money, could even choose to have statues of themselves created,
and placed in temple shrines. These statues were placed in
temples so that the women's image would stay in people's prayers while they went about their household chores, so as to protect her. This statue
is depicted in a common fashion at the time. In fact, most women in Mesopotamia were "trained", from childhood to become mothers, wives, and housekeepers, acting much like a servant for her husband and children. She would learn to make drinks, especially beer, cook, spin and weave cloth for clothing. Some women made a business of these talents, selling beer they had brewed, or opening taverns. Sometimes these women's child bearing and caring roles actually led them to become midwives, and even created medicine, such as birth control, or medicines for causing abortions. These businesses were usually the only form of job a woman would have outside the household. For the most part, aside from some of the aforementioned businesses, mesopotamian women did not usually act as an individual outside of the household, and their families. Although the women who did, were usually royalty, or those with wealthy husbands, in a place of power and status. Laws "If a [woman wine-seller] does not accept [grain] according to gross weight in payment of drink, but takes money, and the price of the drink is less than that of the corn, she shall be convicted and thrown into the water." (#108). (This refers to a practice known as a trial by ordeal. It was believed that the Euphrates River would act as judge of people accused of various crimes. If, when thrown into the river, the accused person floated, she or he was considered innocent. But if they sank, the river had found them guilty.) "If a man wishes to divorce his first wife who has not borne him sons, he shall give her the amount of her purchase money and the dowry which she brought from her father's house, and let her go." (#138) "If a married lady who is dwelling in a man's house sets her face to go out of doors and persists in behaving herself foolishly wasting her house and belittling her husband, they shall convict her and, if her husband then states that he will divorce her, he may divorce her; nothing shall be given to her as her divorce-money on her journey." (Law #141.) The Hammurabi Code The Code of Hammurabi, is a Babylonian law code from circa 1700 BCE. Hammurabi, the sixth Babylonian king, enacted the code. Parts of it are enscribed on various clay tablets and stones, although the previous image is of the most complete piece we have. Sources http://oi.uchicago.edu/OI/MUS/ED/TRC/MESO/women.html - Research and Image.
http://www.womeninworldhistory.com/lesson2.html - Research.
http://hsci.cas.ou.edu/exhibits/exhibit.php?exbgrp=-999&exbid=47&exbpg=4 – Research.
http://www-sjvs.stjohns.k12.fl.us/parents/policies - Image.
http://socyberty.com/history/the-position-of-women-in-ancient-mesopotamia/ - Research.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Hammurabi - Research.
http://journeysandessays.blogspot.com/2010/10/code-of-hammurabi.html - Image
And in the Babylonian period (circa 1800-1600 BCE) almost half the population were slaves. THE END
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