Tous les articles par Laura COUSIN

Female perfume-makers in neo-Assyrian and neo-Babylonian documents

In the epic of Gilgameš, Uta-napištim recounts the following after the Deluge has ended: “I brought out an offering and offered it to the four directions. I set up an incense offering on the summit of the mountain, I arranged seven and seven cult vessels, I heaped reeds, cedar, and myrtle in their perfume burners. The gods smelled the savor, the gods smelled the sweet savor, the gods crowded round the sacrificer like flies”[1].

 Since P. Faure’s work, Parfums et aromates de l’Antiquité, published in 1987, historians have been able to understand that perfume in the ancient world could cover multiple realities. All ancient people used perfume, the best known are the Egyptians who had workshops in Alexandria for perfumes based on cinnamon or kyphi (a solid perfume in the form of incense). In fact, we know two bas-reliefs dating from 4th centuryBC representing the work of perfume-makers, who only use canvas bags and recipients for their work. Perfume and its use are themes rather well-known in near-eastern documents, but relatively little research has been undertaken on this subject. We can nonetheless cite several studies such as those of F. Joannès for Mari[2] or E. Ebeling on perfume-recipes at Assur[3]. We also find a synthesis about perfume and make-up in the Dictionnaire de la Civilisation Mésopotamienne[4] as well as in l’Histoire Mondiale du Parfum, by B. André-Salvini[5]. If perfume ingredients have attracted the attention of historians, the individuals who made them have been neglected.

 The act of perfuming oneself is an ancient gesture. Perfumes, which were most often found in the form of oil, were kept in small gypsum, chlorite and ceramic vases. The most ancient containers come from Tell Buqras in Syria and date from 7,000 BC, that is Neolithic times[6]. Gypsum was used to make zoomorphic vases (hedgehog and hare). Recipients were discovered at Susa, they date from the 4th and 3rd millennia. Jars and bottles dating from the 3rd millennium were discovered at Ur, Tello and Mari, and contained perfumed oils. Finally, among the better known attestations, zoomorphic rhytons at Ugarit were found. We know several terms for perfume: eliu (MA[7]), narqītu (in Standard Babylonian)[8], riqītu (OB and MA)[9] and riqqu (OB)[10], the verb meaning “to make perfume” being ruqqû. Similarly, the word “perfume-maker” was written in several ways: luraqqû (at Mari)[11], muraqqû (MA, NA, NB)[12] or raqqû (Old Akk, OB, Mari, MB)[13]. If in the current western civilisation, to perfume oneself is an act more associated with one’s personal care, even to personal hygiene, we are well aware that in Mesopotamia perfume was more widely used. Thus, among the furniture of temples and palaces we find perfume-burners and incense-burners, and aromatic products were added to drinks, to give them more flavour. Perfume in the form of fumigation could also present a medical aspect. Throughout this presentation on female perfume-makers, we will attempt to determine in which manner these women appear in the texts studied. We must however point out that the documents we have related to them are rather limited, and this paper can only give a glimpse of the matter.

1.     A few reminders on perfume

1.1. Techniques used to make perfume

Perfume initially appears as a rough texture, that is, it is used as an aromatic substance without being transformed, as in the case of perfume-burners. The use of such substance continues in the first millennium, as two bas-reliefs illustrate. The first is the famous “Garden Party” – the oldest scene we know of a lounging banquet – showing Assurbanipal and his queen Libbali-šarrat after the royal campaign of the Assyrian king in Elam.  The fact that the queen is present is rather rare and therefore notable, and in this garden where the royal couple clearly take their refreshments, we observe two perfume-burners that seem to keep them at bay from the other human beings present[14].  Also, in another well-known bas-relief, the “scene of an audience with the great king” which was visible in the Apadana of Persepolis, we observe king Xerxes I and behind him crown prince Darius, also cut off from other mortals by two perfume-burners. As for perfume preparations, they are rather well attested. As early as the 3rd millennium we see that the essence of plants was extracted so as to make perfumed water, ointments and oils. Two technics were employed in order to proceed to this extraction: it had to either be done cold (rendered by the Akkadian verb rummuku), performed on four types of woods – cypress, cedar, myrtle and juniper – or the extraction had to be done hot (according to the technic called “oil pans”) notably used in Mari with cypress, myrtle, fragrant reed and boxwood. During the neo-Babylonian period, the variety of fragrant products used became wider through accessing resources from the Arabian Peninsula. We thus find lists of “woods”, that is plants whose stems, berries, gums and resins were used. We should remember that in Mesopotamia itself, trees or shrubs necessary to make these aromatic substances for perfumes were rare. They therefore had to be acquired from the West. This is why perfume appears essentially in royal inscriptions or the archives of sanctuaries.

1.2. A place to manufacture perfume: neo-Babylonian sanctuaries

In neo-Babylonian documents, temples constitute the best examples of perfume fabrication. We find for example data on this subject in a study by A.C.V.M. Bongenaar on the archives of the Ebabbar temple[15]. Perfume is added to certain oils that are employed on special occasions, even celebrations. Such oils are called hilu, kiru and siltu[16] and are used during very specific days and for particular female deities. According to A.C.V.M. Bongenaar, the term hilu can designate a perfume or incense, as well as the ceremony for which this oil is made. Furthermore, this substance is only associated to the deity Šarrat-Sippar, and particularly during the ceremony of her sacred marriage[17]. A recipe to make hilu is known from several texts. Thus 6 litres of sesame are needed to which are added aromatic herbs to make hilu[18]. In the prosopography of the sanctuary of Šarrat-Sippar’s prebend-owners, the E-edin-na, A.C.V.M. Bongenaar identified a woman, Kaššā, who bears the title rabītu ša bīt Šarrat-Sippar, and who could be the daughter of Nabuchodonosor[19].  In the texts where we find her, Kaššā receives wool to prepare a cultic objet for the female deity, a imitu ša pišannu [20] and sesame to prepare oil[21]. However, she does not appear in charge of the fabrication of perfumed oil, this seems to instead rest with Sîn-ili’s family, who is the son of Šamaš-iddina and descendant of Bel-ēṭēru, and who is one of the ērib bīti of the temple of Šarrat-Sippar. At Uruk in the Eanna temple, perfumes were made in a house called bit hili. One of the most famous texts concerning this house is UCP 9/2 27, dated to Nabuchodonosor’s reign and studied by F. Joannès[22]. This bit hili is a religious edifice, under the responsibility of the šangû bit hili[23] and associated to the goddesses Uṣur-amâssu and Urka’itu[24].  This document lists the details for the ingredients given to a person named Nabû-mušetiq-uddê for the “work for the bit hili”. He thus gets 22 different aromatic substances (cedar, cypress, myrtle, box wood, fragrant reed, myrtle for example), but also pees, wool and sesame[25].

2. Looking for female perfume-makers

While we know a few male perfume-makers, such as Nur-ili at Mari under Zimri-Lim[26] for example, the names of female perfume-makers in royal palaces during the first millennium remain unknown for now. In the texts I have studied to write this presentation, a female perfume-maker is referred to as a (mí)muraqqītu in Akkadian. We further find references to female perfume-makers during the middle-Assyrian period[27], and often in cultic contexts[28].

2.1.Female perfume-makers in neo-Assyrian documents

First, I would like to come back to female perfume-makers during the neo-Assyrian period with a text that comes from the administrative documents of Nineveh’s palace, SAA 7 24. This document, whose date is probably lost, presents a very detailed list of women officiating in the palace of Nineveh. It was previously studied by B. Landsberger[29], F. Fales and J.N. Postgate[30] and more recently by S. Parpola[31]:

 “36 Aram[ean women] ; 15 Kushite women […] ; 7 Assyrian women, m[aids of theirs] ; 4 replacement[s…]; [x+]3 Tyrian wom[en…]; [x] Kass[ite women]; (break) [x fem]ale Cory[bantes]; 3 women from Arpa[d]; 1 replace[ment…]; 1 woman from Ashd[od]; 2 Hittite women, …[…]. In all, 94 (women and) 46 maids of theirs: total, of the father of the crown prince; in all, 140. The woman Šiti-tabni, 2 maids, ditto; the woman Amat-Emuni, 3 ditto. 8 female chiefs musicians; 3 Aramean women; 11 Hittite women; 13 Tyrian wo[men]; 13 female Cory[bantes]; 4 women from Sah[…]; 9 Kassites women; in all, 61 female musicians. 6 temple stewardesses […]; 6 female …[…] scribes ; 1 woman-… ; 4 women from Dor ; 15 female smiths and seals-borers; 1 hairdresser, in all, 33.Grand total: 194 (women) and 52 maids; (also) 1 female perfume-maker; her 2 maids; in all, 156.”

In his recent article on the neo-Assyrian harem, S. Parpola went back on this unique text from the palace of Nineveh and which dates according to him to the reign of Esarhaddon. Among these women we find 94 court women, whose names we cannot identify, with their 46 servants. According to S. Parpola, these women must have been royal concubines (they are said to be linked to the father of the crown prince, in Akkadian ša abišú ša mār šarri). Among them, only 11 are Assyrians, the others are Arameans, Kushites, Tyrians, Kassites, people from Arpad, Ashdod, or Hittites. Indeed, we note that female musicians are the workers the most represented for the female population of the palace. In this text, only two women are named. The first among them, Šiti-tabni, bears an Akkadian name and appears next to two female servants, who are apparently hers. As for Amat-Emuni, her name is particularly interesting. It is indeed composed of an Egyptian theophorus, Emuni, the combination meaning “Servant of Amon”. She seems to be accompanied by three servants. Data on these two individuals are meagre, considering that they appear in only this one text. However, despite the scarcity of sources for them, given that they are cited by name and that they are accompanied by several servants we could deduce they enjoyed a high position. We also find 33 women who exercised professions other than within the arts, among them a hairdresser and a perfume-maker. The translation of these two professions seems problematic. S. Parpola chose to translate gallabtu as hairdresser, instead of “female-barber” chosen by F.M. Fales and J.N. Postgate. Also, the term mu-raq-qí-tú was translated by F.M. Fales and J.N. Postgate as “spice-bread baker”, not by “perfume-maker”. These women who worked in sectors other than catering, music or dance represented 15% of the Assyrian harem according to S. Parpola from among 249 women (39% are concubines, 21% servants, 25% musicians and dancers and 15% are skilled workers). It is therefore not surprising that these women are found in small numbers as beauty experts in this text. Other items also come to our help to understand these female perfume-makers. These are objects found in royal tombs of Assyrian queens[32], notably tomb II containing the body of Yabâ, queen of Tiglath-Phalazar III, as well as the remains of another woman, probably Atalia, queen of Sargon II. This tomb was discovered by Hussein in 1989, in room 49 of the north-west palace of Kalhu.  In the funerary chamber, a great wealth of objects was found, objects engraved with the names of these two queens, but also with Banitu’s name (meaning Beauty), the wife of Salmanazar V. Among the objects found inside the sarcophagus, we find bowls made of gold, jars made of crystal, a mirror made of electrum (an alloy of gold and silver) and a recipient for cosmetics made of electrum, also inscribed with the queens’ names. For example, we find on the engraved mirror: “Belonging to Atalia, queen of Sargon, king of Assyria”. On the floor of the funerary chamber, a box made of electrum destined for cosmetics was also found equipped with a mirror that served as lid. We easily imagine female perfume-makers employing these objects during the exercise of their work. The other objects (jewels, precious stones, precious dishes) were maybe used for these women’s beauty care and adornment after their death.

2.2.Female perfume-makers in neo-Babylonian documents

If documents that come from the royal Assyrian palace are relatively meagre, the ones that come from the palace of Babylon during the first millennium are perhaps even more so. Only one document gives us information on female perfume-makers, text Bab 28122, part of the lot N1 from the archives of the southern palace of Babylon. This lot of 303 texts was found in the palace part called by R. Koldewey Gewölbebau, or vaulted building, and which he had initially thought to be the emplacement of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. In the text studied by F. Weidner in Fs. Dussaud in 1939 and which it seems has not been utilized since, we find female perfume-makers mentioned twice:

– Firstly on the obverse line 9: “šá 6 mu-raq-qé-e-tú 2 SILA3 ÀM ina ŠU.2 IdNÀ.BÀD-ma-[ki?-i?][33]”.

– And then line 11 on the reverse: “6 mu-raq-qé-e-tú 2 SILA3 ÀM ina ŠU.2 IdNÀ.BÀD-ma-[ki?-i?]”.

This tablet could be dated year 13 of Nbk, that is 593/592[34], and lists the quantity of sesame oil allocated per month either to individuals or to a group of persons, as is the case here (month of Nisanu on the obverse and month of Ayyaru on the reverse). This oil can be used for food consumption, and perhaps also for anointment[35]. People who receive the oil, for example our female perfume-makers here, are placed under the responsibility of an individual bearing a Babylonian name. As for our study, despite my investigations, I have not found more information on Nabû-dur-makî. This text is remarkable on several points. On the one hand, it mentions Joiakin, the king of Juda deported to Babylon by Nabuchodonosor who seems to also receive a ration of oil (Obverse, line 29 : […] a-[n]a Iia-’-ú-DU LU[GAL šá KUR ia-ú-du, and repeated line 32 of the reverse [a-na Iia-’-ú-DU LUGAL šá KUR] ia-ú-du). In this text, princes are also cited and eight individuals that come from the kingdom of Juda like Ur-milki (reverse l. 13), Gadi-ilu (obverse l. 18), Šalamyama the gardener (reverse l.22) and Samakuyama (obverse l. 28). Concerning rations allocated to individuals that came from the land of Juda, the quantities are rather meagre, around half a sila (that is 0,421 l.).  Joiakin receives half a PI, that is 15,156 l. but he shares it with his family. Individuals from Tyr are also cited (obverse 32), as well as people from Parsu (obverse 12, reverse 15 and 18), Egyptians (obverse 17, 20, 23 and reverse 20, 23), Ionian craftsmen (obverse 15, 19 and reverse 12, 16, 21, 27), Lydians (obverse 22 and reverse 25). Among the professions present in these lists we find palace scribes, servants, gardeners, messengers, carpenters, guards.  It is of course interesting to note that the origin of our female perfume-makers for the palace of Babylon remains unknown, but that once more, they appear in a list which places them in contact with people of a foreign origin, and for some coming from the West. We can then ask the following question but which cannot be settled at present: in the same way as certain products destined for perfume-making come from the West, could we also reasonably propose that these women also come from this area? Further, is their coming to Babylon or Assyria due to the fact they are experts in their trade? The other question concerning this text, and which is not fully elucidated, is to know why do individuals on this list receive oil from the palace: do they reside at the palace? Or do they simply receive their rations there[36]? Yet, if they have taken the trouble to record these women and their activity, we could infer that they were sufficiently important because they were experts and as such should be listed and identified in the palatial sphere.


Perfume appears as an element linked to power and which concerns elites, palatial and cultic: the objects found in royal Assyrian tombs and the archives of temples testify to this. It is therefore not surprising that female perfume-makers appear in such contexts, at least according to the sources we have currently.

[1] J. Bottéro, L’Epopée de Gilgameš, Paris, 1992, p. 194.

[2] F. Joannès, “La culture matérielle à Mari (V) : les parfums”, MARI 7, 1993, p. 251-270.

[3] E. Ebeling, Parfümrezepte und kultische texte aus Assur, Rome, Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1950.

[4] Article “Parfums et maquillages” by F. Joannès.

[5] See M-C. Grasse (dir.), Histoire Mondiale du Parfum. Amériques, Afrique, Orient, Europe, Océanie. Des origines à nos jours, Paris, 2007.

[6] M. Casanova, “Les origines de la parfumerie de l’Asie centrale au Levant”, Dossiers d’Archéologie n°337, Janvier-Février 2010, p. 16.

[7] E. Ebeling, Parfümrezepte, p. 50.

[8] Nabonide, OECT 1, pl. 27, iii 29.

[9] For the OB period, see UCP 10 142, and for MA see E. Ebeling, Parfümrezepte, p. 39.

[10] For texts relating to it, see CAD R, p. 369b: notably E. Ebeling, Parfümrezepte, p. 28, 29 and 33.

[11] See for example ARM 2 136.

[12] We will study this term in this paper.

[13] See CAD R, p. 173b et 174a.

[14] A. Benoit, Art et archéologie : les civilisations du Proche-Orient ancien, Paris, 2003, p. 403.

[15] A.C.V.M. Bongenaar, The Neo-Babylonian Temple at Sippar: Its Administration and its Prosopography, PIHANS 80, 1997.

[16] Id., p. 267

[17] See texts Cyr 279 and Camb 152.

[18] See BM 74485 (= Bertin 1816): 14 herbs, for a total weight of 9.4 kg with 42 l. of sesame oil.

[19] A.C.V.M. Bongenaar, The Neo-Babylonian Temple at Sippar, p. 249 and see texts Camb 24 et Nbn 57.

[20] Camb 24.

[21] Nbn 57.

[22] F. Joannès, “Traitement des maladies et bit hilṣi en Babylonie récente” in. L. Battini et P. Villard (éds.), Médecine et médecins au Proche-Orient ancient, BAR International Series 1528, Oxford, 2006, p. 76.

[23] Id., p. 77.

[24] Id., p. 77.

[25] Id., p. 76-77.

[26] ARM 23 470-475.

[27] See KAV 194: l. 9 (= VAT 8862).

[28] As in KAR 220 iv 9.

[29] In “Akkadisch-Hebräische Wortgleichungen”, VT 16 (or Fs. Baumgartner), 1967, p. 198-204: B. Landsberger initially presented this document as a list of women sent by the king of Tyr to Assurbanipal alongside one of his daughters.

[30] In SAA 7 24

[31] S. Parpola, “The Neo-Assyrian Royal Harem”, in. G. Lanfranchi, D.M. Bonacossi, C. Pappi et S. Ponchia, Leggo! Studies Presented to Frederick Mario Fales on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday, Wiesbaden, 2012, p. 613-626.

[32] See M.S.B. Damerji, Gräber Assyrischer Königinnen aus Nimrud, Jahrbuch des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums 45, Mayence, 1999.

[33] This name Nabû-dūr-makî si a personal proposition, but relies on the existence of this patronym during the neo-Assyrian period (see PNA 2/2, p. 823), and would mean “Nabû is a fortress against want”.

[34] O. Pedersen, “Foreign Professionals in Babylon: Evidence from the Archive in the Palace of Nebuchadnezzar II”, in. W.H. Van Soldt (éd.), Ethnicity in Ancient Mesopotamia, CRRAI 48, Leyde, 2005, p. 268.

[35] See E.F. Weidner, Jojachin, König von Juda, in babylonischen Keilschrifttexten, Fs. Dussaud II, Paris, 1939, p. 927.

[36] See on this subject O. Pedersen, “Foreign Professionals in Babylon”, CRRAI 48, p. 271.

Dowry management in the neo-Babylonian period: A case study

Dowry management in the neo-Babylonian period:  A case study

Laura Cousin (doctoral student, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne — UMR 7041-ArScAn)



Historians have been interested in the type and role of women in society since the 1960s, and Assyriology has not fallen behind with studies such as Images of Women in Antiquity by Averil Cameron and Amelie Kuhrt in 1983 which extended the question to women’s status in the Ancient Near East, and more recently Femmes, Droit et Justice dans l’Antiquité orientale by Sophie Lafont in 1999 and Women of Babylon by Zainab Bahrani in 2001. Women’s dowries have themselves been the subject of several studies, notably those of Martha Roth in a series of articles in JAOS 111/1, 1991 and AfO 42-43, 1989.

The term dowry, nudunnû in Akkadian, comes from the root NDN meaning to give. Dowry promises and receipts are at the heart of numerous administrative documents. This aspect was studied by K. Abraham in “The Dowry Clause in Marriage Documents”, RAI 38, 1992. Dowries are mentioned in the great majority of marriage contracts in the first millennium, between 635 and 203[1] BC. Dowry contracts are drawn up in the following manner: at the beginning of the period, the clause consists of two components, a list of items composing the dowry and its donation to the new couple by the bride’s agent (K. Abraham listed 14 deeds of this type, dated between 556 and 486 BC). We will study two dowry contracts that follow this model. In later texts, in addition we find a document summarising the items contained in the dowry, its receipt by the groom (mahir) and in some cases, the receipt (eṭir).

In this presentation, I would like to introduce several women whose personal trajectories are quite distinct from each other, thus explaining the different management of their dowries and the matrimonial strategies that surround this question:

– Ina-Esagil-ramât (IER), daughter of Balaṭu and Kaššaya and descendant of Egibi, married to Iddin-Nabû of the Nappahu family (not to be confused with the grand-mother of Marduk-naṣir-apli/Itti-Marduk-balaṭu//Egibi, who was also called IER and was married to a man bearing the name Iddin-Marduk of the Nur-Sîn family);

– Šikkuttu, daughter of royal judge Marduk-šakin-šumi, of the URÙ.DÙ-mansum family, married to Ea-šuma-uṣur of the Eṭiru family;

– Amat-Baba (AB), daughter of Kalbaya from the Nabaya family, who married the famous Marduk-naṣir-apli (MNA), son of Itti-Marduk-balaṭu of the Egibi family (see K. Abraham’s study dedicated to the archives of this individual linked to the state Business and Politics under the Persian Empire, Bethesda, 2004).    

Our questions will be the following: to which degree were women able to manage their dowry and make them fructify? And what are the limits of this management?

We should note beforehand that it will not be possible here to establish one model that will apply to all women encountered. We can only present specific cases.

  1. The composition of these women’s dowries: between recurring items and exceptional goods

M. Roth has studied in a most thorough manner the dowry composition in the neo-Babylonian period[2]. Items contained in dowries are divided into two categories: those a woman brings for herself, that is to say the udê biti (household items), either furniture, jewellery items, even female slaves who may be used as domestics or ladies-in-waiting, and those items destined for the settling in of the new couple and for their financial well-being, that is money, real estate, and slaves to sell. Dowry lists as a whole may appear disparate because the composition of a dowry depends on the specific and inherent circumstances of the marriage arranged between the protagonists’ two families: whether the bride comes from a wealthy family or not, whether she is coming to a house independent of her mother-in-law’s own or a house already existing and therefore already equipped.

But the sources we have must be studied with due circumspection. Indeed, we do not have marriage contracts at our disposal to complete our view point on the arrangements the two families would have made regarding the utilization of the dowry.

1.1. Attractive dowries: the cases of Ina-Esagil-ramât and Amat-Baba

1.1.1. Ina-Esagil-ramât’s dowry: the appeal of the land

Text BM 77600, studied by H. Baker in The Archive of the Nappahu Family, AfO Beih. 30, 2004, contains IER’s dowry:

“Balaṭu, son of Ibnaya, descendant of Egibi, voluntarily gave as a dowry with Ina-Esagil-ramât, his [daught]er, to [Iddi]n-Nabû, son of Nabû-ban-zeri, descendant of Nappahu, (the following) : 0.4 kur of land planted (with date palms) out of his land in Kār-Taš[mētu] which is next to (the property of) Marduk-naṣir, son of [FN descendant of AN, and n]ext to (the property of) Nabû-nadin-šumi and [Bēl-ēreš, sons of Mušezib]-Marduk, descendant of Gahal […(3 lines largely lost) … (the slave) Ni]nlil-Silim [… …], a foot[stool], a chair, […], a lamp, a bronze lamp stand and a bronze lantern, 2 cups, a bowl, a brazier and a g[ra]te. [Not including] the 0.1 kur of land planted (with date palms) which Iddin-Nabû purchased [fro]m [Bal]āṭu for the full price of [x minas x shek]els of silver. …Witnesses… [Babylon], 26th day of [Nisan]nu, [x year of RN, ki]ng of Babylon [(…)]”.

The marriage of these two individuals seems to have taken place at the end of Nabonidus’ reign, bordering on the beginning of Cyrus’ reign, around 537[3] BC. The composition of IER’s dowry is rather typical and after studying her sisters’ dowries, we notice that she is given more assets than her younger siblings, and this is also a common trait as the eldest daughter’s dowry is generally the most advantageous. Thus Ṣiraya’s dowry, one of IER’s younger sisters, is composed of slaves almost exclusively. Similarly, Amat-Ninlil’s dowry – also known under the name of Gigītu – is a little more consequential but not as important as her sister’s own (0.2.3. kur of a field, that is, what remains of Kār-Tašmetu’s estate and one female slave).

We thus see emerging the roles of each and the relationships that arise within the family unit. Further, the fact that IER is given a larger share than her younger sisters is not an isolated case. Indeed, IMB’s daughters, Tašmetu-tabni and Ina-Esagila-belet, are not given an equivalent dowry: it is a dowry worth double that of her younger sibling which is given to the eldest daughter. Thus when Tašmetu-tabni receives five slaves and two plots of land, her younger sister is given three slaves and one plot of land[4] (for the dowries of Tašmetu-tabni and Ina-Esagila-belet, see IMB’s will, dated Cyrus’ accession year).

We can also trace the origin of certain items in IER’s dowry from text BM 77600. Her parents are Kaššaya, daughter of Šuma-iddin, from the Kutimmu family, and Balāṭu, son of Ibnaya, descendant of Egibi – it does not seem that this Egibi family should be linked to the branch of the Egibi family that we know so well thanks to the studies of C. Wunsch and K. Abraham, and of which Amat-Baba, one of the other ladies in this study, is part. Kaššaya – whose real name seems to be Tašmetum-damqat[5] – bequeaths certain assets to her daughters, IER and to her sister Amat-Ninlil/Gigītu, assets which she herself had received in her dowry. For instance, this is the case of the bequest she makes in favour of IER in the form of her mulugu-slave’s son (a mulugu is a special term for a slave. Slaves said to be mulugu are included in certain dowries, but all slaves in a dowry are not necessarily mulugu-slaves. According to M. Roth, the difference between a mulugu-slave and a slave who does not bear this title, lies in the fact that the children of mulugu-slaves are susceptible to remain in the dowry’s legal and economic orbit). However, Kaššaya changes her mind later, and leaves her two daughters a field she had received from her husband as compensation for her 4 minas of silver, the gold value of her “box” (quppu). Briefly presented, the quppu according to M. Roth is “a cash sub-category” which in certain cases is associated with the nudunnû.  A husband can use his spouse’s quppu, but he must give her a pledge, and when it has been exhausted, he must convert it into other goods for his spouse. The land bequeathed by Kaššaya to her daughters is located at Nabatu, a locality probably situated near Nār-ša-aḫḫē-šullim and Bit-Ašani next to Babylon.

IER’s dowry can be completed by documents VS 3 94 et VS 3 95 which mention another field part of the young girl’s dowry: “8 kurru de dattes, la redevance-imittu du champ de Kār-Nabû au bord du Nār-ša-aḫḫē-šullim, appartenant à la dot de Saggil-ramât (sic)”. This field is not very far from Babylon on the Aḫḫē-šullim canal and most probably constitutes a personal donation given by her father. Among the numerous goods IER brings with her, the most precious in the eyes of the Nappahu family is undeniably land. The ownership of agricultural land is indeed lacking in the family’s estate. Iddin-Nabû’s mother, Zunnaya owned one kur of land next to the Šamaš gate in Babylon which she shared with a woman named Ramûa, who seems to be her sister. But this land left the economic orbit of the Nappahu family upon the marriage of Iddin-Nabû’s sister, Ṣiraya, who received it as part of her dowry around 540[6] BC. After examining IER’s dowry, it would seem that the fact IER is apparently a young girl from a wealthy family, and brings a valuable asset with her, is going to determine her status as a spouse and her future actions within the Nappahu family.

1.1.2.     The case of Amat-Baba: the appeal of a rich dowry

Amat-Baba appears for the first time in a contract for a land sale in Dar 26 (see C. Wunsch CM 20b, text 177). Her future husband, Marduk-naṣir-apli is the buyer and her father Kalbaya is the seller. The land mentioned in this contract is next to the one promised for AB’s dowry. This latter’s dowry is particularly important (BM 34241 and duplicate BM 35 492):

“Kalbaya, son Sillaya, descendant of Nabaya, voluntarily gave as a dowry with Amat-Baba, his daughter to Marduk-nasir-apli, son of Itti-Marduk-balatu of the Egibi family, son of the daughter of Iddin-Marduk and Ina-Esagil-ramât: 30 mina of silver, 2 kur of land planted out of his land, which is next the irrigation ditch of the Ilu-tillati family, situated in Litamu, 5 slaves and udê biti. Iddin-Marduk son of Iqišaya and descendant of Nur-Sîn received the 30 mina of silver from the hands of Kalbaya, son of Sillaya, descendant of Nabaya. They each took a document […] to Amat-Baba […] 5 slaves…[…] Marduk-nasir-apli”.[7].

In this dowry, we note that MNA is presented as a descendant of Iddin-Marduk and IER, who are in fact his paternal grand-parents. In addition, it is Iddin-Marduk, the grand-father, who receives the dowry. We can therefore conclude together with M. Roth that Itti-Marduk-balaṭu (IMB), MNA’s father, died suddenly and that the transfer of his estate has taken time to happen[8]. We indeed see that twelve years go by before IMB’s holding-company is divided between his three sons[9]. This situation surely explains in part MNA’s behaviour with regard to his wife’s dowry. Moreover, a dowry so considerable is rather surprising. Through this marriage, Amat-Baba is going to enter an influential family and one already wealthy. Thus the Egibis are most probably asking for colossal dowries for the young women to marry one of them, and inversely when a young Egibi woman marries into another family, dowries are less consequential as the Egibi family’s prestige reflects on them. Previously the Nupta family had to pay a considerable sum to marry their daughter to MNA’s father, IMB[10].

1.2.Šikkuttu’s marriage and dowry: a problematic reconstruction

The third woman in our study is Šikkuttu, the daughter of Royal Judge Marduk-šakin-šumi who practiced under the reigns of Neriglissar and Nabonidus. C. Wunsch assembled the documents relating to Šikkuttu in Urkunden zum Ehe-, Vermögens- und Erbrecht aus verschiedenen neubabylonischen Archiven, 2003. The deeds are found in the Babylonian archive of the Šangu-Ninurta family as one of Šikkuttu’s daughter, Amat-Ninlil, is married to Hariṣanu from the Bēl-apla-uṣur family, and this family line is itself linked to the Šangû-Ninurta family[11]. Šikkuttu has several types of documents to her name: a house purchase, two transfers of properties to her children, a debt note in which she is the creditor, two field rentals with imittupromissory notes and a lawsuit, which we will study later.

Already before her marriage, Šikkuttu was engaging in financial activities as text BM 46646 shows: Šikkuttu lent 10 and a ½ shekels to Kabtiya/Na’id-Marduk//Ṣahit-ginê in year 5 of Neriglissar, and she therefore has probably received an education orienting her towards this type of activity: 10 ½ shekels of silver belonging to Šikkuttu, daughter of Marduk-šakin-šumi, descendant of the URÙ.DÙ-mansum family, is the debt of Kabtiya, son of Na’id-Marduk, descendant of the Sahit-ginê family. In the 11th month (Šabattu), he will pay with his own silver […]. Witness. In Babylon, the 5e of Arahsamnu (8th month), the second year of  Neriglissar. The previous debt note of 5 ½ shekels of silver is cancelled”[12].

We have the rather broken marriage contract between Šikkuttu and her future husband, Ea-šuma-uṣur of the Eṭiru family (BM 48 562), which dates from Nabonidus’ reign. This text, from which only ten fragmentary lines are preserved, deals with an u’iltu promissory note and a nudunnu dowry[13]. Indeed, the name of Šikkuttu’s spouse is lost, only text BM 46581 enables us to reconstruct it: Ubartu, one of Šikkuttu’s children is called “daughter of Ea-šuma-uṣur”. As Ea-šuma-uṣur never appears in the documentation, C. Wunsch has proposed that Šikkuttu may have found herself widowed quite quickly with three children, two daughters Amat-Ninlil and Ubartu and one boy, Nabû-nadin-šumi, and she would thus have had to find the means to sustain her family. The fact that Šikkuttu has become widowed is never mentioned, but the documents we have suggest this. Further, the term widow, almattu, is only very seldom attested during the neo-Babylonian period, and according to M. Roth occurs only once in text Dar 43[14] .

  1. Women’s management and its limits

2.1.The dowry conversion phenomenon: the example of Amat-Baba

Amat-Baba’s dowry conversion is recorded in BOR 2 3, Babylon, 5-III-16 Darius I, in 506 BC: “Marduk-nasir-apli, son of Itti-Marduk-balatu and descendant of Egibi voluntarily gave to Amat-Baba, daughter of Kalbaya, descendant of Nabaya:  a planted field, which is in Bit-rab-kasir, on the Nar-Tupašu, his property, with his slaves Madanu-bēl-usur, Nannaya-bēl-usur, Zababa-iddin, Madanu-iddin, Bēl-gabbi-belumma, Nabû-rehti-usur, Ahušunu, Hašdayitu, her daughters and Ahassunu: instead of 30 mina of white silver, 2 mina of gold, 5 mina of refined silver and a ring; instead of Nabû-ittiya and Nana-killili-aha the slaves, the dowry of Amat-Baba. Witnesses. In Babylon, the 5th of Simanu, 16th year of de Darius”.

Dowry conversions were studied by M. Roth[15] also.  Converting a dowry means converting an asset into another, but the value must remain identical. Thus, when a husband or father-in-law wishes to use part of a young girl’s dowry, in particular silver or another precious object, he must substitute the item for something of equal value. The dowry conversion phenomenon regularly occurs. Indeed, IER’s mother, Kaššaya, saw part of her dowry property converted by her husband. She owned gold, estimated at four minas of silver, which was converted by her husband into a field and a slave, and this is rather typical for dowry conversions, according to M. Roth: “Real estate and slaves were the only property into which the original dowry components were converted, and silver was the most common original component to be converted”[16].

We may wonder if this dowry conversion was made to the advantage of Amat-Baba or of MNA, and it seems clear that MNA is the primary beneficiary. Indeed, he seizes part of his wife’s assets and the land he gives her in exchange seems to be largely under his control as revealed by numerous contracts in MNA’s archives which were drawn up at Bit-rab-kaṣir. AB takes no active part in the running of the estate.

2.2.Withholding a dowry and its consequences: the case of Šikkuttu

The documents concerning Šikkuttu show that this woman led a rather independent life. Indeed, as IER, she seems to manage an estate herself and especially, she is greatly concerned with ensuring her children’s situation, in particular her daughters. While we do not find any documents related to the activities of Šikkuttu’s husband, relations between Šikkuttu and her in-law family are abundant in our texts, particularly her interaction with her brother-in-law Bēl-ikṣur. Šikkuttu’s father-in-law, Ea-aḫḫē-iddin, has probably taken control of the dowry management, and upon the pater familias’ death, it is Šikkuttu’s brother-in-law, Bēl-ikṣur, who takes charge of the family’s affairs. A compensation for Šikkuttu’s dowry must therefore be found. Then follows a series of documents in which emerges the process for the dowry compensation. Text BM 46581 could be said to deal with the compensation that Šikkuttu receives for her dowry from her brother-in-law Bēl-ikṣur l.2: ahi zēri zittu [x-x]-tu4 mehrat abul dzababa that is: “a half field, the share of […], in front of the Zababa Gate”. This field is mentioned in no other documents and it could be the compensation Bēl-ikṣur found for Šikkuttu.

During the eighth year of Cyrus’ reign in 531 or 530 BC, Šikkuttu had a document drawn up concerning all the assets she received from her father (BM 46838): thus we find 11 slaves that Šikkuttu’s father, Marduk-šakin-šumi had given her and whom she bequeaths to her daughters in an official contract (taknuk-ma). Ten years later, around 521, at the beginning of Darius’ reign, she acquires from her nephew Bēl-nadin-apli, son of Bēl-ikṣur (see BM 47795+BM 48712) part of a land in Alu eššu in Babylon, with a reed hut, the total area measuring around 144 m². We do not know the price Šikkuttu paid. Then text BM 46581 mentions a transfer of assets between Šikkuttu and her daughters, she lets them have five slaves (but in BM 46 838 eleven were mentioned, therefore according to C. Wunsch, they were either hired or transferred). This land enables her to harvest dates like BM 46830 illustrates: “58 kur of dates, imittu of the harvest of the field owned to Šikkuttu, daughter of Marduk-šakin-šumi, descendant of the URÙ.DÙ-mansum family, by Ina-Esagil-Budiya and Dininni, her wife,  Šikkuttu’s slaves.”

Finally, Šikkuttu will attempt everything she can to secure the position of her daughters, no doubt in view of the hazards she herself has known. Indeed, this mother seems to rather favour her daughters, Amat-Ninlil and Ubartu, compared to her son Bēl-nadin-apli. For example in BM 46581 (asset transfers between Šikkuttu and her daughters), even though the house is divided into three parts, the land, slaves and money are shared only between the daughters. She also uses the formula taknuk-ma pani…tušadgil (she has sealed and transferred property to…) for this donation, thereby not strictly treating it as a dowry. Finally the daughters have the right to use and to dispose of these assets but not their husbands. Šikkuttu, an independent woman by the force of events or by her own will, wishes the same for her children.

2.3.Between personal involvement and being pushed aside          

2.3.1.     The involvement of Ina-Esagil-ramât in the management of her land and its consequences

The most interesting element in IER’s dowry is of course the land she obtains from her father at Kār-Tašmetu, in the environs of Borsippa and Babylon. The families of IER and IN are both going to find reciprocal benefits and advantages in this marriage. IER’s family owns real estate, seemingly rather consequent considering the land donations we know, and the Nappahu family, presented like a middle-class family by H. Baker[17], disposes of a certain prestige due to their numerous prebends in Babylon which keep them linked with the religious powers. In fact, a large part of the Nappahu archive studied by H. Baker shows the family’s activities linked to prebends. IER’s husband, IN, owns prebends for the temple of the gods Karibu and Išhara at Babylon, which he received as inheritance from his father, and another prebend which he acquired from his adoptive father, Gimillu, husband of Tappaššar.

But let us return to the land of Kār-Tašmetu. It is a palm grove measuring 0.4.0 kur, which had apparently previously produced very good quality dates (in text 139 of H. Baker’s edition/ VS 5 66, deals with Dilmun dates). In addition to this property there is also 0.1.0 kur of land which IN previously bought from her father-in-law, thus forming a field of 1 kur. In addition to this land, there is the field at Kār-Nabû. IER finally has at her disposal a third plot of land at Nabatu, but it does not form part of her dowry as such. IER wants to exploit the land at Kār-Tašmetu with her sister Amat-Ninlil/Gigītu: numerous imittu-deeds benefitting the sisters illustrate this. She also exploits the Kār-Nabû plot of land but this time with her brother Nabû-tabni-uṣur, who also owns a part of this land. We may deduce that due to these different exploitations IER obtains certain liquidities, and this may be confirmed by the fact she has acted as a money lender on several occasions.

IER’s activities therefore do not concentrate only around agriculture. Indeed, in VS 4 186, in 520, she lends 26 and a ½ shekels of silver to Iqiša-Marduk, of the Nappahu family. She lends him again 24 shekels a month later. Finally, she is the creditor of Nabû-aplu-iddin, Nidintu and Eribaya, of the Ir’āni family for a debt of one mina and 20 shekels and during the 8th year of Cyrus’ reign, she takes a house as an antichretic pledge for this money debt. According to H. Baker: “the document, though styled as a promissory note, contains some of the standard features of a house lease contract: the term for which the house was to be at her disposal is specified (2 years), and she was to bear responsibility for the repairs to the house” (p. 54). But no other additional information has come to us regarding the person who potentially occupies the house when IER was the owner, and if she has kept it for the family to use, or if she sublet it. Finally, in the 2nd year of Darius, she takes a field as guarantee for a debt she is owed by the sons of Nabû-balassu-iqbi, descendant of Nappahu.

2.3.2.     Pushed aside from the dowry management: the case of Amat-Baba

AB’s role in the Egibi family perfectly illustrates the matrimonial politics that govern lineage. Besides, as IMB is dead and the transfer of his estate delayed, MNA must find the funds to establish himself financially and socially. Dar. 26 is a good example of MNA’s will to build his own estate[18]. This text mentions the purchase of a field made by MNA from his father-in-law Kalbaya. This field is next to the one Kalbaya had given as dowry to AB (see the similar situation between Iddin-Nabû and IER’s father). According to a note, the field is to be considered as MNA’s specific property and therefore must not be linked to the family’s estate.

Over the years, MNA is also going to try to seize what is left of his spouse’s personal goods. Thus, after the conversion of her dowry, AB tries to regain control of her capital selling seven of the nine slaves that her husband had given her in exchange. Dar 429 highlights the difficulties present between husband and wife because of this dowry: AB wants to sell them to Marduk-belšunu, son of Arad-Marduk from the Šangû-Ea family for 24 minas of silver, maybe to redress the financial situation but the sale is later annulled and we do not know clearly who is at the source of this annulment.

Contract annulments were studied by C. Waerzeggers. All the documents relating to AB mention that she executes these deeds “by her own will” (ina hūd libbišu), but we cannot be duped.  We can compare Amat-Baba’s documents with those of Inṣabtu from the Naggāru family at Borsippa, studied by C. Waerzeggers in “The Records of Inṣabtu from the Naggāru Family”, AfO 46-47, 1999-2000. Inṣabtu is the daughter of Iddin-Nabû and lived at the beginning of 5th century BC. Among the twelve tablets that make up her archive, we count two annulments. Inṣabtu is married to Murānu, son of Nabû-šuma-šukun from the Malahu family. She appears in documents dated between the 20th year of Darius’ reign, until the first year of Xerxes’ reign. However the status of Inṣabtu remains unclear according to C. Waerzeggers. Indeed, even though she has had the opportunity to conclude contracts previously, Inṣabtu is only designated as being “the wife of Murānu” in document Dar. 36 and this date could be the year of her marriage to Murānu even though at this time she was already about thirty years-old: “The possibility that Dar. 36 was the year in which Inṣabtu and Murānu married, should therefore be considered. This would be, however, against the general assumption that Mesopotamian girls married in their teens […]. Maybe she was a widow or a divorcee who remarried in Dar. 36. Two cancellation documents from Dar. 36 offer more, though vague, evidence for a previous marriage” (p. 193).

Inṣabtu is involved in several cases, among which are slave sales subject to two annulments. The first transaction concerns the sale of a slave belonging to Inṣabtu, named Ninlil-silim and of this latter’s son, Ina-qātê-Nabû-šakin (see BM 79048 and BM 79122). In the sale contract, it is specified that it was drawn according to the wish (ana našê ṣibûti ša NP) of Inṣabtu with Itti-Marduk-balaṭu, son of Nabû-aha-iddina.  This latter bought the two slaves for the sum of 3 minas and 20 shekels of silver. However, Inṣabtu never received the money of her sale and neither did she recover her slaves. The annulment was then confirmed. The second case is similar and only concerns Ninlil-silim (BM 79122). The contract states that Inṣabtu wished to sell Ninlil-Silim for 2 and a ½ minas of silver to Bēl-iddina, son of Zababa-šuma-iddina, descendant of Zeriya. But as before, she does not receive the sale money nor does she recover her slave. The sale is thus annulled. According to C. Waerzeggers, in light of Inṣabtu’s matrimonial situation, it would in fact be Inṣabtu’s first husband, Nabû-aḫḫē-iddina, son of Šula, descendant of Imbu-iniya, who had decided to sell the slaves. This leads us to think that, in the cases of Amat-Baba and Inṣabtu, the initial contracts were not drawn up by the women themselves but by a person who acts for them, most probably their husband, who thereby seizes all or parts of their assets.

In the case of AB and of the annulled sale of the slave family, we can suppose that it is in fact MNA who wished to make this transaction and not his spouse. When she was made aware of this, she attempted to have it annulled. Following this when AB regains possession of her slave family, she gives them as a donation with a field to her three daughters (BM 33997). But this gift is also later annulled (DT 233), and we cannot clearly tell why nor by whom. As C. Waerzeggers writes: “the gift document was treated as a sale contract and the three girls were considered as substitute-buyers operating on behalf on their father MNA”. Thus MNA would have gained full control of his wife’s assets, most probably after her death.


After this presentation on dowry management, it would seem that it was often made at the expense of the wife, as the cases of Amat-Baba, and in part that of Šikkuttu clearly demonstrate. In this rather negative picture, the only positive light emanates from the person of Ina-Esagil-ramât, who, according to the documents we have, seemed to certainly have enjoyed prerogatives.

Dowry management cannot be subject to a stereotyped norm as so much is left at the discretion of the husbands and their families, with very little left to the women. These women can only take an active part in the management of their assets if they dispose of a real prestige before their marriage, as the bringing of numerous valuable assets illustrates.

[1] See K. Abraham, RAI 38, 1992, p.311

[2] See M. Roth, “The Material Composition of the Neo-Babylonian Dowry”, AfO 36/37, 1989-1990, p.1-55

[3] H. Baker, p. 20

[4] See C. Wunsch, “Die Frauen der Familie Egibi”, AfO 42/43, 1995-1996, p. 41-42

[5] See H. Baker, The Archive of the Nappahu Family, AfO Beih. 30, 2004, p. 28

[6] Besides, H. Baker adds at p. 63: “While it is true that the only documentation of Nabû-bān-zēri’s estate concerns his temple prebends, if Iddin-Nabû had inherited any agricultural holdings we would expect to find some evidence for its exploitation, in the form of rental contracts, promissory notes for imittu and the like. Nor did Iddin-Nabû give any land as part of the dowry of his daughter, Tabluṭu”.

[7] Copy and transliteration, C. Wunsch, AfO 42/43, p. 54

[8] M. Roth, JAOS 111/1

[9] M. Roth, “The dowries of the women of the Itti-Marduk-balaṭu family”, JAOS 111/1, 1991, p. 19

[10] See M. Roth, “The Dowries of the Women of the Itti-Marduk-balaṭu Family”, JAOS 111/1, 1991

[11] See the very useful family tree for this family in C. Wunsch, “The Šangû-Ninurta archive”, AOAT 330, 2005, p. 367

[12] For the transliteration and copy of the tablet: C. Wunsch, Urkunden zum Ehe, p. 93-94

[13] Copy and transliteration: C. Wunsch, “Und die Richter berieten… Streitfälle in Babylon aus der Zeit Neriglissars und Nabonids”, AfO 44/45, 1997-1998, text 28, p. 95

[14] See M. Roth, “The Neo-Babylonian Widow”, JCS 43-45, 1993, p. 3

[15] M. Roth, “The Material Composition of the Neo-Babylonian Dowry”, AfO 36-37, 1989-1990, p.5-6

[16] M. Roth, “The Material Composition of the Neo-Babylonian Dowry”, AfO 36-37, 1989-1990, p.5-6

[17] See RGTC 8, p. 198

[18] For a translation of this text, see C. Wunsch, Das Egibi-Archiv, I. Die Felder und Gärten, CM 20B, p.210-212, text n.177.

Fiches de lecture (bibliogr. néo-babylonienne)

Neo-Babylonian Bibliography: Abstracts (First part)




–           «The Dowry Clause in Marriage Documents from the First Millenium B.C. », dans : D. Charpin & F. Joannès (éd.), La circulation des biens, des personnes et des idées dans le Proche-Orient ancien. Actes de la 38e Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale (Paris, 8-10 juillet 1991), Paris, 1992 : 311-320.

→ This article examines the way in which the Babylonian notary of the first millennium recorded dowry in the marriage documents. The author is particularly interesting for the contracts TBER 93-94 (see Joannès 1984 and 1990), CT 49 165 and CT 49 193. K. Abraham concludes that Aramaic and Neo-Babylonian marriage deeds have several features in common, and TBER 93-94 has parallels, which occur in the marriage deeds from Egypt, be it the Demotic, the Aramaic or the Greek ones.


–        « West Semitics and Judeans Brides in Cuneiform Sources from the 6thcentury B.C.E. New Evidence from a Marriage Contractfrom Al-Yahudu », AfO 51  2005-2006 : 198-219

→ The tablet published is a contract for the marriage of fNanaya-kānat (See this article for the copy, transliteration and translation of the contract). It is dated of the reign of Cyrus and was edited in the place Āl-Yahudu, near Borsippa. The contract mentions a lot of persons, who have West-Semitic names and the article ends with a study of the onomasticon.


–        Talk 10 November 10th 2011 « Does the Al Yahūdu Marriage Contract Reflect Jewish or Babylonian Law ?»

→ During this talk, K.Abraham presents Al Yahūdu tablets which depict the daily life of a rural community of Judean exiles and their descendants in Babylonia after their captivity. The contract studied is dated of the 5th year of Cyrus, when a woman named Nanaya-kanat married in Al Yahudu and the document is written with unusual formulary with Old Babylonian expressions (see also Abraham, 2005-2006).



Women of Babylon. Gender and Representation in Mesopotamia, Routledge, 2004 (CR de R. Harris dans JAOS 123/1, p. 199-200)

→ The monography is presented as the one of the firsts studies of women through the themes of sex and gender and conceptions of body in Mesopotamian art, and redefines the figure of Ishtar. The author however proposes a very useful overview of feminist theory and their relations with history, art history and archaeology.



“Ba’u-asitu and Kaššaya, Daughters of Nebuchadnezzar II”, Or 67, 1998, p. 173-201

→ This article deals with the daughters of king Nebuchadnezzar II. Both of these women appear of documents come from the city of Uruk, where they seem to dwell.



“Egalité et inégalité des sexes en matière d’atteinte aux mœurs dans le Proche-Orient ancien”, WO 11, 1980

→ This article deals with the moral offenses in Ancient Near East. In Assyria, for example, the author points, men and women seem to be equal for the question of adultery. Guilty men or women are treated with the same rigor or receive the same indulgence. But inequality appears with the question of incest. After comparisons with Hammurabi’s Code, Torah and Assyrian laws, it results that it exists four interdictions of marriage: mother and son, aunt and nephew, mother-in-law and son-in-law, step-mother and step-son.



“Zwei Frauengeschichten aus den späten Jahren von Nebukadnezar II. Probleme der Interpretation”, RAI 47, 2001

→ The two documents studied are dated of the second part of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II. The first ROMCT II, 2 (see G. Mc Ewan for edition) mentions the city Qadesh and is a purchase-contract of a female slave. The second document (see edition in RAI 47, p. 115) deals with a girl who becomes a širku for the Eanna Tempel in 570-569.



« La fille de Nabonide », RA 11, 1914, p.105-117

→ This article presents a copy, transcription and translation of the text, entitled “The daughter of Nabonid” (AO 6444). In fact, Bel-šal¸i-Nannar, daughter of the king of Babylon was educated to be a priestess of the god Sîn in Ur.



“Some Neo-Babylonian Women”, in. J.-M. Durand (éd.), La femme dans le Proche-Orient antique, RAI 33, Paris, 1987, p.75-80.

→ The question of position of women during the Neo-Babylonian period is the theme of this article. It presents six women of different social categories (slave, temple prostitute, wet nurse, widow and married woman) and their role in society through legal and economic texts.



– “Kaššaia, fille de Nabuchodonosor II”, RA 74, 1980, p. 183-184

→ This paper is a complement work of Weisberg’s study about royal women. Kaššaya is the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar II and also the wife of Neriglissar. However, she is probably the oldest kid of the king. Her name appears in the text HE. 477 (dated of Nbk. 31). Wool, which will be used to make a garment, is taken to her personal goods.


–   « Contrats de mariage d’époque récente », RA 78, 1984, p.71-81.

→ It is the first study of the texts TBER 93-94 and TBER 78a, which come from Susa. They are written in late akkadian, but legal clauses are atypical for this period. The most important thing is, that persons who appear in theses contracts have Egyptian names. So the texts enable to think that an Egyptian community resides in Susa.


–   « Un cas de remariage d’époque néo-babylonienne », in. J.-M. Durand (éd.), La femme dans le Proche-Orient antique. Actes de la 33e Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale (Paris, 7-10 juillet 1986), Paris, 1987, 91-96.

→ This article presents the archive of the family Ea-iluta-bani, who dwell in the city of Borsippa during the 7th to 5th century (687-487). The author studies particularly the generation of years 551-522. There were actually 6 marriages but concern just 8 persons, so remarriage take part in the same family (see the very useful genealogical tree at the end of the article). Endogamy is a very important system because of the transfer of property and goods.


–   « Textes babyloniens de Suse d’époque achéménide », dans : F. Vallat (éd.), Contribution à l’histoire de l’Iran. Mélanges offerts à Jean Perrot, Paris, 1990, p.173-180.

→ The article presents two fragments of two contracts, Sb 9385 and Sb 9078 (see copy, transcription and translation in article). This study is a complementary work of RA 78. All the texts come from Susa and are dated of the reign of Artaxerxes. Sb 9385 is a marriage-contract and some persons have Egyptian names too. They can be members of the Egyptian community of Susa, dwelt in this place since the reign of Cambyses.


–        « Inventaire d’un cabaret », Nabu 1992, note 64

→ The texts Camb 330 and Camb 331, written in Hursagkalamma are valuable sources of information about a tavern under the reign of Cambyses. The tavern is operated by a slave-woman, Ishunnatu, but financed by a member of the Egibi family, Itti-Marduk-bala¸u.


– « Inventaire d’un cabaret (suite) »,Nabu 1992, note 89

→ This article is a complement of Nabu 1992, note 64. The texts OECT 10, 239 proves a parallel about contents, place and person for the question of the tavern. There the person’s name is Ishunnatu too but is probably a homonym.


– « Amours contrariés », Nabu 1994, note 72

→ Cyr 311-312 and Cyr 307 deal with a special case: when the family of the young girl does not want her marriage or when legal laws are not respected.


– « Place et rôle des femmes dans le personnel des grands organismes néo-babyloniens », Persika 12, 2008, p. 465-480.

→ In this article, F. Joannès is interested in the question of the role of women in the great organisms of Babylonia in the first millennium. The feminine manpower was employed for textiles activities, milling, and agriculture.



“Everyday Life of Women According to First Millenium Omen Apodoses”, RAI 47, 2001

→ The investigation examines the ordinary women who appear in omens. The author identifies four general themes (marriage, childbirth, death and adultery) of favorable and unfavorable omens.



– “Le “Lit” de Šamaš et le Rituel du Mariage à l’Ebabbar”, ASJ 7, 1985, p. 129-137

→The author is interested in the question of the process of Šamaš’s divine marriage-ceremony and particularly of the question of his bed. The article is based on economic documents of the reigns of Nabonid and Cambyses.


– “Les rituels du mariage divin dans les documents accadiens”, ASJ 10, 1988, p. 95-128

→ This article is focused on the divine marriages of several divinities: Nabû and Tašmetu, Šamaš and Aja, Marduk and ¥arpanitum, Anu and Antu, and discusses among other things the term hašadu and his signification.



“Une femme gardienne de son mari”, ZA 3, 1888, p. 17-22

→ This very unusual text of the second year of Neriglissar deals with three persons: Panu-Nabû-¸emi, his wife Burasu and his brother Elqanua. There are two requirements in this text: Burasu is the watch of her husband and she has to deliver him to her brother-in-law. J. Oppert proposes that Panu-Nabû-¸emi is perhaps mad and is under the responsibility of his wife during the absence of his brother.



“Contrats de mariage et d’adoption dans l’Egypte et dans la Chaldée”, PSBA 9, 1887, p. 167-177

→ The authors examine adoption-contracts in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Through comparisons between a contract of their “personal collection” (a tablet of Sippar) and Straßmaier 8, they specifically examine the structure of this kind of Mesopotamian contracts, which is very similar of marriage-contracts.



– “Women in Transition and the bīt mār bāni”, RA 82, 1988, p. 131-138.

→ Abstract in RA 82 “Orphaned, divorced, or widowed women in the Neo-Babylonian period were deprived of the legal, social and economic security they had enjoyed as daughters or wives. This paper discusses one option open to such women: they could seek the socially sanctioned protection of the bīt mār banî. The evidence is insufficient to conclude whether the bīt mār banî (a previously unrecognized phenomenon) refers to a physical building, or to the legal and social protection given by a responsible member of the community to a woman without the protection normally provided by her immediate family”.


Babylonian Marriage Agreements 7th-3rd Centuries B.C., AOAT 222, 1989

→ This monography is divided in two parts. In the first part, M. Roth presents the type of documents she is studying. Most of the 44 marriage documents are “dialogue documents” and just six present the formulation ina hud libbišu. The author questions the new status of wife, the question of her dowry, children and the clauses which can cancel the marriage. In the second part, we can find transcriptions and translations of the 44 marriage agreements between the reigns of Kandalu and Antiochus III.



– “Die Frauen der Familie Egibi”, AfO 42/43, 1995/1996

→ The archive of the Egibi family depict the history of the business activities of the Egibi during five generations, since Nebuchadnezzar to Xerxes. C. Wunsch is interested in this article in the women of the Egibi family, who appear in dowry-contract and exchange of possessions.


Urkunden zum Ehe-, Vermögens- und Erbrecht, aus verschiedenen neubabylonischen Archiven, Dresden, 2003

→ In this monography, the author presents 47 unpublished texts which deal with marriage, dowry, testaments and divorce between the reigns of Nabopolassar to Darius I. The women belong to different neo-babylonian families, for example, Basiya, URÙ.DÚ.MANSUM, Egibi, of Babylon, Sippar or Borsippa.


– “The Šangu-Ninurta Archive” AOAT 330, 2005

→ This article deals with a archive of a business and well-to-do Babylonian family between reign of Nebuchadnezzar II to the reign of Xerxes. The author however presents the marriage links between the Šangu-Ninurta, Bel-apla-u¤ur and E¸iru families and draws a useful prosopography of the women of the familiy during 3 generations, in which we can see that most of the goods are transmitted to the next generation only in the female line via dowries.