Love and Marriage in ancient Mesopotamia

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Tue, 16 Jan 2018 - 10:34 GMT

“The Babylonian Marriage Market” painting, by Edwin Long – Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

“The Babylonian Marriage Market” painting, by Edwin Long – Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

CAIRO – 16 January 2018: Most ancient civilizations considered marriage as an essential step for achieving stability. The society of Mesopotamia or Ancient Iraq, known as the Cradle of Civilization, followed certain traditions concerning marriage and establishing an independent family.

Marriage documentation and marriage contract writing are the primary steps of marriage in Ancient Iraqi society. Ancient Iraqi King Hammurabi’s code laws stated that un-written or un-documented marriage wouldn’t be acknowledged.

Proposal was the first step of marriage, followed by writing a marriage contract and finally the wedding, according to a research paper written by professor Sabah Hassem Hammadi, Faculty of Education, Baghdad University.

Between the marriage contract writing and the wedding in Ancient Iraq, the bride received a number of gifts from the suitor’s family. And after the death of the wife, the children inherited the paid dowry.

Marriage contracts included documenting the rights of both the wife and husband, the names of the witnesses and the date of the marriage.
Beside the gifts the suitor presented to his bride, he also presented a wedding ring; the presence of a wedding ring was common in the ancient civilizations of the east, such as in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, according to researcher, journalist and blogger Dalia al-Anssari .

Concerning the wedding ceremony, the groom paid the required expenses of the wedding ceremony. Additionally, he provided wedding attendees with food and drinks.
During the wedding, the bride received a gift from her father, in addition to her receiving extra gifts or money from her husband. One of the common traditions on the wedding ceremony is pouring oil and perfumes on the bride’s head.

Washing her body with water and soap, applying body creams, herbs, and perfumes on her body and mouth, using eyeliner as eye makeup, wearing an expensive dress, and using gold and silver accessories were the bride’s main preparations for her wedding.

Marriage Market

In the ancient city of Babylon, a big market for marriage existed. The market showed different girls and young women being auctioned. The writing of great Greek historian Herodotus about the market inspired famous British painter Edwin Long to paint his most renowned art work “The Babylonian Marriage Market”. Long's painting shows a number of ladies standing in the market during an auction; they were treated like goods and slave.

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