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Women in Sumer

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  • sbudin@camden.rutgers.edu
    Greetings, All! I have come across what strikes me as a rather odd depiction of women and their status in Sumer. Since I am more familiar with later periods,
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 3 7:11 AM
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      Greetings, All!

      I have come across what strikes me as a rather odd depiction of
      women and their status in Sumer. Since I am more familiar with later
      periods, I would appreciate any commentary anyone on the list might
      offer, as well as any bibliography. Please note: the author is NOT an
      ancient historian of any kind. Her footnote for this passage is in
      one lump form, so it is not possible to determine where any specific
      datum came from.

      "Women of the upper classes were able to own slaves and other
      property, to transact business, and to retain control over their
      dowries (though inheritance went first to sons, if there were any).
      Royal women in particular had considerable power, founding dynasties,
      managing large temple estates, and even ruling city-states. But
      farther down in the class structure, legal texts show that women could
      be sold by their husbands, put to death for adultery, divorced if
      barren, or drowned for refusing to bear children. Since most girls
      were wed by age eleven or twelve, marriage was the state in which they
      lived most of their lives. Women's children were regarded as the
      property of their fathers, who were permitted by law to decide wether
      they should be exposed, married, or sold as slaves. The lot of female
      slaves was of course worse: in addition to being 'subject to the
      master's sexual whims,' female slaves received about half as much food
      as their male counterparts, and many died at a young age owing to the
      harsh conditions under which they labored."

      Thoughts?

      Many thanks! -Stephanie Budin
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