King Tutankhamen and Queen Ankhesenamun [Fragmented from Zahi Hawas’ book] King Tutankhamen and Queen Ankhesenamun [Fragmented from Zahi Hawas’ book]

Love, marriage and divorce in Ancient Egypt

Mon, Oct. 2, 2017
CAIRO – 2 October 2017: Egyptians inherit many social traditions and customs from their early historic roots, so Egypt Today will give a quick overview on the history of love, marriage and divorce.

“Love your wife and make her happy as long as you live.” One of the Ancient Egyptian thinker Ptahhotep’s wisdoms.

He stressed that love is the main basis for marriage in ancient Egyptian life.

The Ancient Egyptians portrayed scenes of love and respect between men and their wives on the walls of temples.

They also married young, with men often marrying by the age of 17 and women by the age of 14, according to Zahi Hawas in his book, “Family in the Period of Ancient Egyptians.”

Having a home, a well-respected job, and agreement between the couple were the main conditions for any marriage in Ancient Egyptian society, as is the case nowadays.

Women had the freedom to choose their husbands which indicated their position in society. However, they did have some restrictions in marriage as royal family members weren’t allowed to marry members of the public, in order to maintain the purity of their royal blood.

Despite this restriction, a number of marriages between royalty and common folk did occur such as the marriage of King Amenhotep III and Queen Tiya.

The most well-known love stories in Ancient Egyptian history are those of Isis and Osiris, which is the center of Egyptian mythology, and King Tutankhamen and Queen Ankhesenamun, according to the book.

Commoners also married their family members like royalty did.

The monuments of Ancient Egyptians do not provide a lot of information about marriage rituals, although we do know that rings and a dowry were core parts of marriage.

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King Amenhotep III and Queen Tiya

Marriage documentation began in the 22nd Dynasty and husbands recited oaths before an audience. The bride’s father gave his daughter a part of his properties.

The bride would contribute in the preparation of their home by buying furniture and textiles, while the groom would gift her with golden accessories.

A list of furniture bought as part of a wedding was documented in Hawas’ book. The list included a bed, dining tables, a number of chairs, boxes for keeping clothes and accessories, make-up tools and perfume bottles.

The husband had social and legal obligations to his wife as well, such as providing her with means, respecting her, not commanding her and being loyal to her.

On the other hand, the wife was obliged to keep the house clean, take care of her husband, and share her money and prosperity with him as well, in addition to tending to her children.

The wife also had the right to complain to her family.

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Ancient Egyptian Family

Regarding divorce, it was legal in select circumstances. Couples could divorce if they presented evidence of betrayal, hatred or illness.

Regardless of gender, the spouse requesting the divorce was obliged to pay half the dowry to the other. After the divorce, the wife would receive an official document, subsequently allowing her to remarry.
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