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Legal and economic rights of Ancient Egyptian women - Essay Example

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Through info gleaned from ancient Egyptian artwork and historical epitaphs, ancient Egyptian women enjoyed a lot of legal and economic rights. For all intensive purposes, they had the same legal and economic rights as Egyptian men. …
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Legal and economic rights of Ancient Egyptian women
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she brought into the home were under her control though her husband had use of them.

Any property amassed during the marriage was governed by the husband but a share of it

belonged to the wife. One third of the property went to her if the marriage ended or her

husband died.

The ability to reproduce offspring was a crucial aspect to every ancient Egyptian

woman. One who was fertile was considered to be successful in the eyes of their

husbands, family, friends, and society in general. If she was sterile and could not

procreate most men sought divorce. They saw raising as many children as possible as a

testament to their masculinity. However, as in modern society, adoption was the way to

remedy the situation of infertility. Because of the shorter life expectancy and high birth

rates in ancient Egypt, there were many orphaned children who sought homes and


As in most legal cases in Egypt, women were afforded many property rights. All

private property she brought into a marriage belonged to her in the event of divorce.

She was entitled to inherit one third of all property purchased during the marriage upon

the death of her husband. The remaining two thirds was allotted to the children and

siblings of the deceased. She also had the ability to entrust her husbands property to her

children or her siblings. On the flip side, she could also exclude her children from her

personal and shared property. It could be awarded to certain children and omitted from


Egyptian women entered into all kinds of contracts: marriage, divorce, property,

and even self-enslavement to name a few. The latter was actually common amongst both

men and women. To enter into...
The proof that Egyptian women were entitled to this legal and economic independence was acquired during the Ptolemaic period. The Greeks ruled Egypt around 300 B.C. though each had their own separate laws and social economic traditions. To this kind of notoriety comes another type that is more like infamy. Some women became famous for being convicted of crimes. An example is a woman named Nesmut who committed robberies of royal tombs. One woman fled her district to avoid paying labor on her royal estate and was incarcerated at Thebes. Then there were the prostitutes and wives that were involved in the harem conspiracy of Ramesses III-they had their ears and noses cut off. Of course, the number of women’s crimes compared to men’s crimes is significantly smaller. These women were very brazen and they felt they could be equal to men in just about any endeavor they undertake whether heroic or dastardly. The stigma of Egyptian women in public was somewhat of a mixed bag. They were free to go out in public as they worked out in fields and workshops. It was not necessary for them to wear a veil at this time. Ramesses III stated in one inscription that he enabled women the freedom of going where they wanted without the worry of danger. Another inscription was found with a less liberating tone. It denounced women who were traveling into town and were unknown and alone. They were supposedly irreverent and free with their sexuality. Although they had the legal freedom to travel, Egyptian social customs dissuaded that notion. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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