Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
Marriage and Divorce
- Author(s): Toivari-Viitala, Jaana
- et al.
Marriage formed a central social construct of ancient Egyptian culture. It provided the normative framework for producing children, who would act as one’s rightful heirs. The latter were responsible for performing one’s funerary cult, thereby securing one’s eternal life. The economic effects of marriage were also notable. The husband, wife, and children were all perceived as having equal rights to the conjugal joint-property consisting of a 1/3 share each. In addition to this, the spouses might own private property of their own. As marriage modified many aspects of daily life such as social status, domicile, and the intricate network of interpersonal rights and obligations, it was not a relationship entered into at random. A sequence consisting of a choice of partner followed by an exchange of gifts and assets preceded the actual marrying. Once the marital status was a fact, both parties were expected to abstain from extramarital relationships. However, it was possible for men to have several wives.