A sneak-peek into marriage, chores, careers and divorce in ancient Egypt

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Cairo, July 9 (ANI): Husbands and wives had several joint and separate marital activities in ancient Egyptian society.

With matrimony at the core of their society, their practice of early marriage stemmed from their belief that a committed and happy family would lead to secure and contented children who would be the future adults of a stable society.

"Although we don't have any texts that mention marriage formalities, legal documents show clearly that married men and women had well-defined responsibilities," Al-Ahram Weekly online quoted secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawass as saying.

According to the history books, husbands and wives had several joint and separate marital activities.

The bride might bring with her into the marriage domestic equipment, textiles and sometimes a donkey-the main means of transport at the time.

The groom built the house and gave his wife commodities and items of jewellery.

"Contracts defined property rights within the marriage, like qayma nowadays, were among the marriage rituals from the Third Intermediate Period and the New Kingdom," said Hawass.

Such contracts were between a husband and his father-in-law.

There were also other contracts recording the material rights of the wife, sometimes even the amount of food and clothing her husband should provide her with annually.

In the case of divorce, the wife usually received a third of the joint property as well as whatever she brought with her into the house.

By the Late Period, the wife as well as the husband could initiate divorce.

"This right shocked the misogynist Greeks of that time," said Hawass.

While a woman was allowed only one husband, a man could have more than one wife if he could afford it.

"But perhaps because of the influence of the ideal example of the divine couple Isis and Osiris, most marriages were monogamous," said Hawass, adding that a man or a woman could remarry in case of divorce or widowhood.

Women were not forced to sit at home and raise children. On the contrary they had the right to work and did so in several domains, except for the military and government.

Spinning, weaving and domestic work were common jobs among ancient Egyptian women, and when Hawass discovered the Pyramid builders' necropolis on the Giza Plateau he discovered that women played their role in the construction of the Pyramids.

Throughout the course of history women sought employment as wet nurses, manicurists, musicians, singers and priestesses.

"In fact, women were silent but very well interpreted," said Hawass. (ANI)

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