Found an ancient marriage contract, fixing surrogacy

In our days the growing popularity of the procedure had been concluded between the newlyweds marriage contracts. However, this tradition, is by no means new. Recently it became known that in Turkey, archaeologists have unearthed the oldest known to date of marriage contracts. In the text of the document drawn up, scientists believe, more than 4 thousand years ago, spelled out the conditions concerning the situation of infertility of the couple and even planned for this scenario, the use of “surrogate mother”.


photo: Gennady Cherkasov

According to the publication Daily Sabah, during archaeological excavations near the Turkish city of Kayseri among the other finds was raised from an ancient cultural layer, a clay tablet with text that is in fact the oldest found so far marriage contracts.

Transcript of a document written in a cuneiform font that contains a very “juicy” information. In particular, prudent spouse stipulate in advance the possible unpleasant situation when his wife will be suddenly barren. On this account, the agreement says: if during the first two years of marriage the couple will not have children, the husband has the right to resort to the help of one of his young slaves. The woman will be “surrogate mother” of his child. And one additional item earthenware document: in that case, if the slave gives birth this from the owner of a boy – an heir – then as a reward she will get freedom.

According to information from historians in the area where is now the city Kasri, XXI and XVIII century BC was one of the large villages that were part of the Assyrian Empire. Excavations in these places, archaeologists are already for nearly a hundred years. Among other previously discovered artifacts and cuneiform clay tablets. However, the uniqueness of the current findings is that the text contains the earliest time documented mention of female infertility.

A unique label has already handed over for display in the Istanbul archaeological Museum.

Very interesting ancient marriage contracts have been discovered before and in places where there was once the ancient other state.

For example, in one of these contracts between the newlyweds, who lived in Ancient Egypt, there is the following passage, written on behalf of women: “If I hate you or if I love another man I give you back your silver and renounce any right on the ground.”

But in the Babylonian Kingdom, according to researchers, marriage contracts were often verbally. From the literature it is known that during the marriage has performed a special ceremony, including the compulsory bride uttered the phrase, “You only you my husband, I’m your wife!” As they say, “the word is oak”: no such oral marriage contract concluded in front of witnesses, a fair sex could not obtain the official status of wife. Interestingly, according to common at that time customs, “quarrelsome” wife her husband had every right to expel from home or “demoted” to a servant. Well, when a particularly willful disregard for a woman his family of the debt instructed her to “throw in the water.” In the case of the defiant “wrong” behavior or his wife revealed her long infertility of male had a legal right to take another woman. But one, a choice of a second wife, slave or concubine. At first his wife could remain living in a common family.

Very detailed all the conditions in the marriage contract, drawn up on the Greek island of elephantine in the year 311 BC, and is recorded on a piece of papyrus. The text is clear that a man named Heraclides marries a Freeborn woman himself Demetrius, the daughter of the Leptin and Filotey dowry her dresses and jewelry, valued at a thousand drachmas. For its part provides Heraclides Demetria all that is proper to have a Freeborn woman, and they will live together where by mutual agreement they see fit-in-law and father-in-law. If Demetrius, being married, does anything bad, navlekshy thereby shame on the wife, then she would lose everything that brought. But Heraclides shall prove the truth of his charges against Demetria before three honorable men, who will Express their confidence in both parties. In the contract there were also restrictions for the head of the family. Heraclides had no right to enter your home another woman to recognize their children born to another woman and generally under any pretext to harm lawful wife Demetria. If you violate these points, if Demetrius will be able to prove such a precedent, the Heraclides will have to return the wronged wife her dowry, and, besides, to pay a thousand drachmas “fine”. Having started the divorce on their own initiative Heraclides is obliged not only to return his wife all her dowry, but also to pay a certain amount for each month spent by them in marriage.

Interestingly, despite the then high cost of writing materials, the prenup was composed in two copies, the couple kept this document each and when the “insured event” could present for the trial.

Well, very prudently they were our ancestors!

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