Archives de catégorie : Neo-Assyr. / Neo-Babyl. / Achaemenid

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.

Conclusion

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.

The economic activities of Isḫunnatu, a slave woman of the Egibi Family

Introduction

Within the framework of this second meeting entitled “The Economic role of women in the public sphere in Mesopotamia:  from the workshop to the marketplace”, I tried to find examples of slave women involved in economic activities inside the public sphere, that is to say outside their master’s home. To have enough time to develop my subject, I chose today to present you only one single example: it is about Isḫunnatu, slave of the Egibi family from Babylon, who manages a drinking establishment in Kiš, a city located some 12 km east of Babylon. In the introduction, I would like to give some general information about the context in which slave women are quoted in private archives and especially in the Egibi’s.

 1) On one hand, we notice that in the great majority of cases, women slaves appear in a passive way in private archives:

a) They are mentioned in sale contracts when they are bought or sold. In this first example, Itti-Marduk-balaṭu, chief of the third generation of the Egibi family sold a slave woman named Mizatu at Opis :

Camb. 143 (Opis, 24/xii/Camb 2) [abstract]: (1-5)Itti-Marduk-balaṭu, son of Nabu-ahhe-iddin, descendant of Egibi, has voluntarily sold to Asalluhi-ah-uṣur, son of [Šila’], his slave woman fMizatu for the full price of 1 mina and 25 shekels of silver.

     b) Slave women are also mentioned in family documents such as dowry contracts or testaments. In this second example, Itti-Marduk-balaṭu gave 5 servants as dowry to her daughter Tašmetu-tabni :

 Cyr. 143 (Babylon, 26/xi/Cyr 3) [abstract]: (1-8)Itti-Marduk-balaṭu, son of Nabu-ahhe-iddin, descendant of Egibi, has voluntarily given 10 minas of silver, 5 slave women, household goods, dowry of fTašmetu-tabni, his daughter, to Itti-Nabu-balaṭu, son of Marduk-ban-zeri, descendant of Bel-eṭeru.

  c) They can be also mentioned in promissory notes among pledged properties. In this third example, Marduk-naṣir-apli, chief of the fourth generation of the Egibi family, secures a heavy debt by casting a real estate and a slave family including a mother and her daughters as pledge for the debtor:

 TCL 13, 193 (Susa, 10/xii-b/Dar. 16) [abstract]: (1-4)45 minas of nuhhutu-silver of one-eighth alloy belonging to Šarru-duri, royal officer, son of Edraia, is the debt of Širku, whose second name is Marduk-naṣir-apli, son of Iddinaia, descendant of Egibi. (6-14)Madanu-bel-uṣur, his wife, fNanaia-bel-uṣur, his sons, Zababa-iddin, Madanu-bel-uṣur, Bel-gabbi-Bel-ummu, Ahušunu, and his daughters, fHašdayitu and fAhassunu, a total of 8 slaves from the service of his home (…) are the pledge of Šarru-duri.

2) On the other hand, we notice that slave women do not appear in two types of activities which seem reserved to slave men:

a) First, women never act as agents contrary to some slave men who take care of a part of the economic activities of the Egibi family. For example, in this text, Nergal-reṣua, slave of Itti-Marduk-balaṭu receives the rent of a home belonging to the Egibi family following his master’s order :

Camb 253 (Babylon, 7/viii/Camb 4) [abstract]: (Concerning) 8 shekels of silver, half-yearly rent of a house belonging to Itti-Marduk-balaṭu, son of Nabu-ahhe-iddina, descendant of Egibi, which is the debt of Arad-Bel, son of Kalbaia : Nergal-reṣua, slave of Itti-Marduk-balaṭu, received them according to the instructions of Itti-Marduk-balaṭu, from Arad-Bel, son of Kalbaia, descendant of Šuma-libši.

 b) Second, women are not among slaves who receive a formation for a specific job through apprenticeship contracts. Slaves men could learn various very qualified jobs as weaver, cook, lapidary’s craftsman, potter, sack-maker, carpenter, etc[1]. These contracts were a way for the Egibis to diversify their income. For example, in this text, it is Nuptaia, wife of Itti-Marduk-balaṭu, who sends a man slave belonging to her husband to Bel-etir, the weaver master:

Cyr 64 (Babylon, 20/vii/Cyr 2): Nuptaia, daughter of Iddin-Marduk, descendant of  Nur-Sin, has given Atkal-ana-Marduk, slave belonging to Itti-Marduk-balaṭu, son of Nabu-ahhe-iddin, descendant Egibi, to Bel-eṭir, son of Aplaia, descendant of Bel-eṭir, for five years to (learn) the weaver’s craft (išparūtu).

The great majority of women are used in housework, activities which do not produce the writing of contracts. Beyond domestic activities, rare texts allow us to study the case of women slaves working outside the house. So, the story of Isḫunnatu is an exceptional example.

1. History of the business establishment entrusted to Isḫunnatu

1.1. The creation of the business establishment during Cambyses’ reign (530 – 522)

   The business establishment entrusted to Isḫunnatu is documented by two Babylonian texts belonging to the Egibi Archive found in Babylon : Camb 330 and Camb 331[2]. These texts were drafted the same day of the 6th year of Cambyses in Kiš and more precisely in Hursagkalamma. The name Kiš applies to a range of tells covering a large area. Hursagkalamma corresponds to Tell Ingharra, in the south-Eastern part of the Kiš area[3]. The Egibi texts allow us to study the creation of a business establishment at this place.

1) In Camb 330, a man named Marduk-iqišanni must deliver to Isḫunnatu, slave of Itti-Marduk-balaṭu, an important capital including furniture and dishes:

 Camb 330: (1-2)Equipment which Marduk-iqišanni will give to Isḫunnatu, slave woman of Itti-Marduk-balaṭu : (3-7)5 beds (gišná = eršu), 10 chairs (gišgu.za = kussû), 3 tables (gišbanšur = paššuru), 1 lamp stand (ingurēnu), 3 knifes (serpu), 1 iron hoe (marru), 1 axe (qulmû), 1 fermenting vat (namzītu), 1 vessel stand (kankannu), 1 kettle (mušahhinu), 1 vat?giššiddatu, 1 maššânu, 1 chest (arānu), 1 reed ušukullatu(7-8)They own nothing jointly. (8)They will not renew litigation against each other. (9-10)Equipment which belongs to Isḫunnatu, until the end of the month of šabāṭu (xi), Marduk-iqišanni will not make it out. (11-12)Isḫunnatu will pay the rent of the house by herself. (13-15)Witnesses : Remut, son of Aplaia, descendant of Arad-Nergal ; Bel-apla-iddin, son of Remut, descendant of Paharu ; Tukulti-Marduk, son of Iddin-Nabu, descendant of Šangu-Parakki (16-17)And the scribe : Kalbaia, son of Ṣillaia, descendant of Nabaia (17-19)Hursagkalamma, 11th day of kislīmu (ix), year 6th of Cambyses, king of Babylon, king of Lands. (19-21)The promissory note belonging to fLillikanu, Marduk-iqišanni will give it to Isḫunnatu.

 The contract contains three very allusive clauses. The first specifies that « Marduk-iqišanni will not make the equipment go out » from the business establishment during a period of two and half month (l.9-10). The second specifies that « Isḫunnatu will pay the rent of the house by herself » (l.11-12). The last one says that « The promissory note belonging to fLillikanu, Marduk-iqišanni will give it to Isḫunnatu » (l.19-21). We can wonder who is the owner of the house to whom Isḫunnatu now has to pay a rent ? Is it Marduk-iqišanni or Itti-Marduk-balaṭu, descendant of Egibi ? Most of the historians consider that the house belongs to the Egibi family, but we have to confess that there is no evidence in this text for this affirmation. Anyway, we understand that Marduk-iqišanni was the previous owner or the previous tenant of the business establishment simply qualified here as « house ». He managed it, maybe with Lillikanu, who is quoted at the end of the contract. He lends part of his capital including furniture and dishes to Isḫunnatu, the Egibi’s slave woman, during a period of two and half months. If Lillikanu’s share was sold to Isḫunnatu, this transaction would have produced the writing of a promissory note that is the debt of Isḫunnatu. Finally, Isḫunnatu has to give the rent of the house, probably to his owner. So, it seems that the creation of Isḫunnatu’s drinking establishment comes from the rental of an already existing establishment. With the expected profits, Isḫunnatu will be able to return or to buy the equipment belonging to Marduk-iqišanni.

  2) If part of the capital of the establishment comes from Marduk-iqišanni, a second part was supplied by Itti-Marduk-balaṭu, master of Isḫunnatu, as shown in text Camb 331. In this second text, the Egibi chief gives to Isḫunnatu a capital composed of food, furniture and dishes. This capital has a value of 2 minas and 2 shekels of silver. The contract specifies that Isḫunnatu will give to Itti-Marduk-balaṭu an interest during one and half month. If we consider an usual annual interest of 20%, Isḫunnatu will pay 3 shekels of silver for one month and a half. After this period, it is possible that Isḫunnatu will repay to her master a part of the profit of her business establishment.

 Camb 331: (1-8)1 mina of silver, price of 50 vats-dannu of fine beer with (their) haṣbattu ; 40 shekels of silver, price of 10 800 liters of dates, 22 shekels of silver, price of 2 bronze kettles (mušahhinu) weighing 7 minas 1/2, 7 bronze cups (gú.zi = kāsu) and 3 bronze bowl-baṭû as well as 720 liters of kasû which are stored in the house, a total of 2 minas and 2 shekels belonging to Itti-Marduk-balaṭu, son of Nabu-ahhe-iddin, descendant of Egibi, are at the disposal of Isḫunnatu, slave woman of Itti-Marduk-balaṭu. (9)Until the end of the month ṭebētu (x), she will pay an interest. (10-14)Not including : 5 beds (gišná = ešru), 10 chairs (gišgu.za = kussû), 1 kettle (mušahhinu), 1 vat-giššiddatu, 1 stand lamp (ingurēnu), 3 knifes (serpu), 1 iron hoe (marru), 1 axe (qulmû), 2 fermenting vats (namzītu), 1 stand for fermenting vat (kankannu ša namzītu), 1 vat of decantation (namhāru), 2 maššânu. (14-17) Witnesses: Remut, son of Aplaia, descendant of Arad-Nergal ; Bel-apla-iddin, son of Remut, descendant of Paharu ; Tukulti-Marduk, son of Iddin-Nabu, descendant of Šangu-Parakki (17-18)And the scribe : Kalbaia, son of Ṣillaia, descendant of Nabaia (18-20)Hursagkalamma, 11th day of kislīmu (ix), year 6th of Cambyses, king of Babylon, king of Lands.

The Isḫunnatu’s business establishment consists of the rent of capital goods belonging to Marduk-iqišanni and maybe to Lillikanu and of capital goods belonging to Itti-Marduk-balaṭu, her master.

3) Another text, OECT 10, 239 (Museum number : 1924/1280), would show that Isḫunnatu obtained goods from a third source[4] :

OECT 10, 239 / 1924.1280): (1)4 beds (gišná = ešru(2) 3 chairs (gišgu.za = kussû)  (3)1 table (gišpaššuru(4) 1 vat- giššiddatu for beer (5)1 (vat- giššiddatu) for water (6)1 rack(?)simmiltu (7)1 fermenting vat (namzītu(8-9)They were entrusted to Isḫunnatu. (10-14)In the presence of  : Belšunu, son of Zababa-eriba ; Nabu-ah-ittannu, son of Zababa-šum-ereš(?) ; Ṭabiya, son of Bel-iddin ; Zababa-ana-bitišu, son of [NP] ; [NP], son of [NP].

This text arises numerous problems: First, this text doesn’t belong to the Egibi archive, it was found in Kiš and was drafted in front of Kiš inhabitants if we consider the presence of the god-name Zababa among witnesses. Second, there is no date, this text was just a memento. Third, it quotes a woman, named Isḫunnatu who received furniture and dishes, same kind than texts Camb 330 and 331. So, it’s not clear if this Isḫunnatu is the Egibi’s slave and if this text is connected to the drinking establishment of the Egibis in Kiš. But, we have to admit that it will be an incredible coincidence that the city of Kiš shelters two establishments of the same kind both managed by women with the same name. More, the name Isḫunnatu (meaning “cluster of grapes”) is very rare[5]. This text would show that our Isḫunnatu has received furniture and dishes probably from people who live in Kiš. For Isḫunnatu, this capital from Kiš would have served to develop her business activity or to replace Marduk-iqišanni’s goods which were at her disposal during a limited time.

It is very exciting to imagine that this text was maybe discovered by the archaeologists directly inside Isḫunnatu’s establishment in Kiš. Unfortunately, we have to specify that we don’t have any information about the place of the excavation. Even the date of this discovery (ie 1924) seems to be wrong as McEwan notices: « Some texts in the 1924 series (1924.943 – 1786) are known to have been numbered in 1950 (…) Thus, these tablets may date from excavations seasons other that 1924 »[6]. So, it’s impossible to link this text with a precise archaeological expedition in Kiš and to determine from which tell he comes from.

1.2. Economic activities during Darius’reign (521 – 486)

The economic activities of Isḫunnatu in Kiš continue during the beginning of Darius’ reign as shown in two other texts drafted in Hursagkalamma but probably found in Babylon within the Egibi archive: CTMMA 3, 65 and BM 30948[7]. At this time, the slave woman belongs to a new master: Širku, nickname of Marduk-naṣir-apli, son of Itti-Marduk-balaṭu, descendant of Egibi, leader of the fourth generation of the family. So, Marduk-naṣir-apli inherited Isḫunnatu among his father’s possessions.

1) In CTMMA 3, 65 dated from the second year of Darius, Isḫunnatu receives 1800 liters of dates from Nabu-reu’šunu, son of Nabu-eṭir, descendant of Sin-tabni. This creditor probably comes from the city of Babylon, where his ancestor’s name is the most attested:

CTMMA 3, 65: (1-6)(Concerning) the full (payment of) 1 800 liters of dates, Isḫunnatu, slave woman of Širku, on the instructions of [PN], son of Nurea, has received them from Nabu-re’ušunu, son of Nabu-eṭir, descendant of Sin-tabni. (7-10)Witnesses : Bel-lumur, son of Iddin-Marduk, descendant of Šigua ; Nabu-ah-remanni, son of Remut, descendant of Rab-šušši. (10-11)Scribe : Bel-šakin-šumi, son of Iddin-Nabu, descendant of Eppeš-ili. (12-14)Hursagkalamma, 25th day of kislīmu (ix), year 2nd of Darius, king of Babylon, king of Lands. (15)They have taken one (copy) each. (16-17)Dates which for 1 reed vat for decantation (namhāru) … were given.

The contract specifies that the dates were used to buy a reed vat of decantation (namharu). We shall see later that this kind of dishes was necessary for the functioning of an establishment as Isḫunnatu’s one.

2) In the last text, Isḫunnatu borrows 10 800 liters of dates. She has to give them back in Babylon, on a canal and she has to pay the transportation costs (gimru). The use of the dates is not specified: to buy furniture or to make beer ?

BM 30948 / Bertin 2780): (1-5)10 800 liters of dates […]Hursagkalamma [belonging to?] Bel-apla-iddin, son of Remut, descendant of [NP], is the debt of Isḫunnatu, slave woman of Širku, descendant of Egibi. (6-8)The 20th day of kislīmu (ix), she will pay the 10 800 liters of dates on the canal // according to the mašīhu-measure of [PN] // and the transportation costs. (8-11)[Broken lines] (12)A previous promissory note of […] (13-17)Witnesses : Kalbaia, son of Nabu-ahhe-iddin, descendant of Egibi ; Balaṭu, son of Marduk-šum-iddin, descendant of Sippe ; Iqišaia, son of Zababa-iddin, descendant of lú-dugsila3.bur (18-19)Scribe : Tu[kulti]-Marduk, son of [PN], descendant of [PN]. (20-23)Hursagkalamma, 3rd day of [NM], year [xth of] Darius, king of [Babylon], king of lands.

These two last texts show that part of the capital including dates necessary for Isḫunnatu’s establishment in Kiš comes from Babylon, so we can suppose that Egibi’s family members were involved in those supplies. So, it seems that Isḫunnatu was still dependent on Babylon and on her master.

2. COMPOSITION AND FUNCTIONING OF THE BUSINESS ESTABLISHMENT ENTRUSTED TO ISḪUNNATU

The various goods from Babylon or Kiš at the disposal of Isḫunnatu can be classified in two big categories and can help us to qualify the business establishment and the role of Isḫunnatu[8].

2.1. What are the characteristics of Isḫunnatu’s establishment ?

1) First, we notice that Isḫunnatu’s establishment is a place of consumption : Both texts from the Egibi archive quote various furniture including 3 tables, 10 chairs and lamp stands (Camb 330 & 331). Various dishes are quoted too: cups and bowl. At these tables, customers consumed especially beer. In Camb 331, Isḫunnatu receives a total of 50 vats-dannu of good quality beer. According to the different mentions, one vat-dannu could contain 1 kurru of beer or wine, that is to say 180 liters[9]. Isḫunnatu so has already 9 000 liters of liquids ready to be served.

A place of consumption

Furniture :– 3 tables (paššuru / gišbanšur)– 10 chairs (kussû / gišgu.za)– 1 lamp stand (ingurēnu)
Dishes :– 7 bronze cups (kāsu / gú.zi)– 3 bronze bowls (baṭû)
Beer :– 50 vats-dannu of good quality beer

2) Second, the Isḫunnatu’s establishment is a place of production too. Indeed, Isḫunnatu also received 10 800 liters of dates and the material necessary for their transformation into alcohol: Fermenting vat as well as their wooden support and vat of decantation. 720 liters of kasû (mustard / cuscuta?) which enter the manufacturing of beer from dates, probably to perfume it. The presence of a hoe could be related to the exploitation of a kitchen garden near the business establishment. The various products of which could be prepared in a kettle[10].

A place of production

Beer :– 10 800 liters of dates– Fermenting vat (namzītu)– Stand for fermenting vat (kankannu)– Vat for decantation (namhāru)

– 720 liters of kasû (mustard or cuscuta)

Kitchen garden? :– Hoe (marru)– Kettle (mušahhinu)

3) Finally, the Isḫunnatu’s establishment is a place of accommodations, this being supported by the presence of 5 beds among the inventory.

A place of accommodation:

 – 5 beds (eršu / gišná)

So, the Isḫunnatu’s business establishment was a place of consumption of beer and also other food, a place of production and a place where people could sleep.

1.2. How to qualify this business establishment? What was the exact role of Isḫunnatu ?

There are at least two terms naming drinking establishments in Mesopotamia  : bīt sabi and bīt aštammi. The last term indicates more specifically an inn, a place where people can find accommodation as in the house of Isḫunnatu. These two sorts of drinking establishments are especially attested during the 2nd millenium BC[11]. Some historians consider them as places of prostitution. The house entrusted to Isḫunnatu does not escape this image. About the Isḫunnatu’s establishment, the presence of a woman, beds and alcoholic drinks – and the erotic images associated with – has probably excited the imagination of some scholars who connected these three elements automatically with prostitution. Indeed, in his article about “Prostitution in Ancient Mesopotamia”, J. Cooper gives only one example in the paragraph dedicated to brothels, madams and procurers: the case of Isḫunnatu. The question of her establishment as a place of prostitution is clearly asked : « Although beds can be used for lodgers as well as for prostitution, these texts at least show that sexual relations could easily be accommodated ». And the role of Isḫunnatu as procuress is evocated too: « Whether the proprietress was a madam, that is, whether she hired prostitutes or simply provided the venue, is unknown »[12].  These hypotheses about the nature of Isḫunnatu’s establishment and the woman’s role are not based on textual evidences but seem to be supported on a topos. Indeed, the link between drinking establishment and prostitution was strongly disputed by Julia Assante in various articles. She considers that « The tavern prostitute is a scholastic invention »[13] ; « These are just topoi, yet scholarship has been so sure of tavern prostitution that the tavern, éš-dam, bīt aštammi or bīt sabîm/sabîtim, has been all too often easily translated as bordello or brothel. Within this schema, the sabîtu(m), the female tavern keeper (…) becomes synonymous with the brothel madam »[14]. The author speaks about the scholarship’s misunderstanding of Mesopotamian texts and images. Now, I’m going to try to summarize three examples from Julia Assante’s studies :

1) First, Julia Assante considers that the link between drinking establishment and prostitution finds his main source inside the Inanna/Ishtar’s literature. In the Ancient literature, the goddess is a tavern-goer who is looking for sexual companionship. Assante remarks that “This common and spirited literary motif never once includes payment and it would be odd indeed if this powerful goddess of sex and love were financed by her favors”. The author also adds that “Furthermore, to base the brothel hypothesis on such texts ignores others versions of the tavern in which Inanna appears as a young bride or virginal sister”[15].

2) Second, about the following lines from the Code of Hammurabi : “If a nadītu or a ugbabtu, who does not reside within the gagû, should open (the door of) a tavern or enter a tavern for some beer, they shall burn that woman” (§ 110); some scholars have understood these lines as an attempt to prevent the nadītu from mixing with the tavern’s low life, especially prostitution, or from committing sexual offenses there. But, in this case, the prohibition seems to be more ritual than moral. These women were vulnerable of becoming impure because of contacts with elements in the tavern such as fermenting vats[16].

3) Third, the various explicit terracottas called “drinking scenes” were interpreted as realistic scenes of Tavern. Julia Assante considers that these objects representing the divine couple Inanna and Dummuzi bears a magic utility : “Since the constellation of Inanna’s erotic plaques and poems reverses the negative application of mating, marriage and seizure found in other magical literature, its potential as apotropaia seems to be more than a reasonable hypothesis. Plaques may be the physical remains of counteractive measures a householder might have taken to prevent the disastrous occurrence of « mating » with evil, in whatever form it might arrive”[17].

So, after taking into account contributions from the gender Studies, I’d rather attribute a neutral definition for Isḫunnatu’s establishment and I shall follow the definition given by Jacobsen and Kramer, more objective and less focused on supposed sexual aspects, who likened the éš-dam to a modern coffee-house or village-inn, a social center where people came to relax[18]. Indeed, I think that we have to consider the creation of Isḫunnatu’s inn as a part of a large plan managed by the Egibi to create new social relations in Kiš.

3. ISḪUNNATU’S INN INSIDE THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL INTERESTS OF THE EGIBI FAMILY IN THE CITY OF KIŠ

The main economic activities of the Egibi family take place in Babylon and in Borsippa. But, it seems that since the end of Nabonidus’ reign, members of the family tried to develop their business activities towards the city of Kiš. The family archive allows us to distinguish two periods.

1) First, during Nabonidus’ reign, the family possesses some properties in Kiš or in the area. For example, the dowry of Qibi-dumqi-ilat, sister of Itti-Marduk-balaṭu, contains a farmland located on the way from Babylon to Kiš (Nbn 760). The family owns a house in Hursagkalamma which belongs to Itti-Marduk-balaṭu. He rents it to his brother Kalbaia during the 16th year of Nabonidus (Nbn 967). Kalbaia seems to manage a part of the economic activities of the Egibis in Kiš through a harranu-partenership with the other members of the family : « Kalbaia was operating a harranu-enterprise in Hursagkalamma, with personnel hired from Itti-Marduk-balaṭu and on property rented from him, and with financing provided by Iddin-Marduk [= father-in-law of Itti-Marduk-balaṭu]”[19].

2) During Cambyses’ reign, Itti-Marduk-balaṭu, leader of the Egibi family managed himself a new business plan in Kiš. We notice an important activity of investment in Kiš during the 6th year of Cambyses :

a) First, Itti-Marduk-balaṭu opens a city-inn for Isḫunnatu, his slave, the 11th day of kislīmu (ix) (Camb 330 & 331).

b) Second, he buys a home near the home of the « Chariot-driver » (bīt mukīl appāti) the 28th day of addaru (xii) (Camb 349). As Yoko Wataï notices in her PhD dissertation : « The Chariot-driver » occupied an important position in the army but also in the civil administration in Assyria. However, we cannot determine his function in the babylonian administration[20]. So, if the Chariot-driver kept an important function in Babylonia, it would seem that Itti-Marduk-balaṭu tried to get closer to important persons of Kiš.  We notice that Itti-Marduk-balaṭu led the same building policy in Babylon in the TE.Eki district where we find members of the royal administration among its neighbors[21]. The appropriation of a city-inn in Kiš for one of his slaves and the acquisition of a house next to an officer could be part of the same plan. As a place for meetings, the city-inn can be a way for the Egibi to create or to strengthen links of sociability with the inhabitants of Kiš. The inn can be a manner of being in the heart of the city and to know all the rumors and the free speech which is ran in this kind of place. It is maybe a place to meet people and the members of the city elite. The plan to develop the family’s business activities and to be closer to the Kiš elite seems to have been a success :

1) First, in a contract drafted in the 6th year of Darius, an inhabitant of Kiš must go to Babylon to find an arrangement with Marduk-naṣir-apli about a tax on his bow-land (Abraham 2004 : n°17). So, it seems that the chief of the Egibi family became a tax collector from some tax-payers living in Kiš.

2) Secondly, Marduk-naṣir-apli bounded links with the governor of Kiš. Indeed, the chief of the Egibis lent to him an important quantity of silver in Susa during the 16th year of Darius (Abraham 2004 : n°78). So, the leaders of the Egibi Family managed to create business links with the authorities of Kiš.

In the same time, at a lower level, Kalbaia continues his own economic activities in Kiš. Kalbaia seems to live most of the time in Kiš where he owns various lands. His implication earned him the nickname of « Kalbaia of Kiš » (CTMMA 3, 73). Present in Kiš, he maintains relations with Isḫunnatu’s establishment. And indeed, appears as the first witness in text n°5.

CONCLUSION

Isḫunnatu enjoys a large part of freedom in managing her business, appearing as debtor in text CTMMA 3, 65 and BM 30948. In these contracts, she acts by herself and she is the only one responsible for the repayment of the loans. But two facts shows that the members of the Egibi family exercise an attentive control over her economic activities :

1) Except text OECT 10, 239, all the other texts belong to the Egibi Archive found in Babylon. The Egibis keep and control all the transactions contracted by Isḫunnatu.

2) The presence of Kalbaia among witnesses in BM 30948 shows that Egibis attends the transactions involving Isḫunnatu. Their presence can be used as guarantee for the creditor.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Assante, J.

1998        « The kar-kid / harimtu, Prostitute or Single Woman ? A Reconsideration of the Evidence », UF 30 : 66.

2002        “Sex, Magic and the Liminal Body in the Erotic Art and Texts of the Old Babylonian Period”, Sex and Gender in the Ancient Near East, Actes de la XLVIIe Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale (Helsinki, 2-6 July 2001), Simo Parpola and Robert M. Whiting, eds., Helsinki, 2002: 27-51.

 Cooper, J.

2006        « Prostitution », RlA 11 (1/2) : 12-21.

 Dandamaiev, M.

1984        Slavery in Babylonia. From Nabopolassar to Alexander the Great (626-331 B.C.). Northern Illinois University Press, Detroit.

 Gibson, McG.

1980        « Kiš », RlA : 613-620.

 Hackl, J.

2010        « Apprenticeship contracts », in : M. Jursa (dir.), Aspects of the Economic History of Babylonia in the First Millennium BC, AOAT 377, Münster : 700-715.

2011        « Neue spätbabylonische Lehrverträge aus dem British Museum und der Yale Babylonian Collection » (New Late Babylonian Apprenticeship Contracts from the British Museum and the Yale Babylonian Collection), AfO 52 : 77-97.

i. p.          « Frau Weintraube, Frau Heuschrecke und Frau Gut – Untersuchungen zu den babylonischen Namen von Sklavinnen in neubabylonischer und persischer Zeit », To be published in: Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 101. Pre-paper available on http://iowp.univie.ac.at/

 Jacobsen, T. & Kramer, S. N.

1953        « The Myth of Inanna and Bilulu », JNES 12 : 160-188.

 Joannès, F.

1992a     « Inventaire d’un cabaret » NABU 1992/64.

1992b     « Inventaire d’un cabaret (suite) » NABU 1992/89.

 Jursa, M. (dir.)

2010        Aspects of the Economic History of Babylonia in the First Millennium BC. Economic geography, economic mentalities, agriculture,  the use of money and the problem of economic growth (with contributions by J. Hackl, B. Janković, K. Kleber, E.E. Payne, C. Waerzeggers and M. Weszeli) (AOAT 377), Münster.

 Lion, B.

i. p.          « Les cabarets à l’époque paléo-babylonienne », in : C. Michel (éd.) L’alimentation dans   l’Orient ancien, de la production à la consommation, actes du Séminaire d’Histoire et d’Archéologie des Mondes Orientaux (SHAMO).

 McEwan, G.

1984        Late Babylonian Texts in the Ashmolean Museum (OECT 10), Oxford.

 Spar, I. & von Dassow, E.

2000        Private Archive Texts from the First Millenium B.C. (CTMMA 3), New York.

Watai, Y.

2012        Les maisons néo-babyloniennes d’après la documentation textuelle, thèse de doctorat, Université de Paris 1.

 Wunsch, C.

2000        « Neubabylonische Geschäftsleute und ihre Beziehungen zu Palast- und Tempel- verwaltungen : das Beispiel der Familie Egibi », dans : A. C. Bongenaar (éd.), Interpendency of institutions and private Entrepreneurs (Mos Studies 2 ; PIHANS 87), Leiden : 95-118.


[1] About apprenticeship contracts, cf. Hackl 2010 & 2011.

[2] These two texts were published and discussed in Joannès 1992a. The unpublished text BM 35140 kept in the British Museum which mentions Isḫunnatu (quoted in Hackl in press) could give additionnal information about the economic activities of the Egibi’s slave woman.

[3] For a summary of the excavations of Kiš, cf. Gibson 1980 : 613-620.

[4] Text published and discussed in Joannès 1992b.

[5] Hackl in press.

[6] McEwan 1984 : 1.

[7] Copy Bertin 2780.

[8] See the comments of F. Joannès about these goods (Joannès 1992a. & b).

[9] CAD, D : 98b-99a.

[10] Joannès 1992a.

[11] Lion in press.

[12] Copper 2006 : 20.

[13] Assante 1998 : 65.

[14] Assante 1998 : 66.

[15] Assante 1998 : 66.

[16] Hypothesis of S. Maul followed and developed by J. Assante (Assante 1998 : 67-68).

[17] Assante 2002 : 43.

[18] « We have assumed that the éš-dam represents the social center of the estate or village, a place in which the inhabitants would typically gather for talk and recreation after the end of work as in a modern coffee-house or village-inn » (Jacobsen & Kramer 1953 : 185a). In this case, one can wonder if it is not in this kind of establishment that the travelers could stay in Kiš (About journeys of Babylonians in Kiš, cf. Jursa (dir.) 2010 : 213-124).

[19] Spar & von Dassow 2000 : 123.

[20] Wataï 2012 : 301-302.

[21] Itti-Marduk-balaṭu hold several houses in the TE.Eki district. One of them is nearby the house of the Crown-prince (bīt-mār-šarri) (Nbn 50), another near a house belonging to a slave of Neriglissar and then Balthazzar (Nbn 9 & Nbn 50) and a third probably near a sepīru of prince Cambyses. Indeed, text Dar 379 enumerates the real estate property of the Egibi family in Babylon and Borsippa. The text specifies that Marduk-naṣir-apli, the representative of the fourth generation of the Egibis, possesses, among others, « a house situated in the TE.Eki district and which is nearby of Hašdaia, son of Gabbi-ili-šar-uṣur » (l.7 ). He is probably the son of Gabbi-ili-šar-uṣur, the scribe on parchment of prince Cambyses evoked in text Cyr 177 (this identification was proposed by Wunsch 2000: n. 23 p. 103-104).

The economic role of women in neo-Babylonian temples

1. The position of women in the religious hierarchy

The place that women hold in temples during the neo-Babylonian period is rather contrasted. Contrary to previous periods where we find women part of the religious personnel, even in restricted numbers, the phenomenon is hardly perceptible in the later periodThe third millennium and the Isin-Larsa period had known the nin-dingir as well as female participants to sacred marriages. The old-Babylonian period has left rich archives for nadītu­-religious women. Nothing like this is to be found for the neo-Babylonian period, apart from the spectacular but totally isolated case of Nabonidus’ daughter, En-nigaldi-Nanna (Ērešti-Sîn in Akkadian), for whom her father restored the giparu sanctuary of Ur and revived the entu function, an institution abandoned several centuries earlier[1]. We will however mention the seemingly particular position, it seems, that the daughters of Nebuchadnezzar II, Ba’u-asîtu and Kaššaia, held at Uruk even if nothing indicates in the Eanna texts (see Weisberg 1971 and Beaulieu 1998) that they were part of the personnel. The special attention they pay to the Eanna could simply be due to the special link the dynasty preserved with the city of Uruk (see Jursa 2010).  Indeed, the mention in YOS 6 10:22 (28-i-Nbn 1) of “rations for the king’s daughter to enter in the king’s account” (kurum6-há šá dumu-mí lugal a-na qu-up-pi šá lugal ú-šu-uz) could also apply to the daughter of the reigning king, Nabonidus, at the very beginning of his reign[2], but it is not excluded either that one of the daughters of Nebuchadnezzar II, Bā’u-asītu, whom we know resided at Uruk, is meant here [3]. While the devotion showed by Adad-guppi, mother of Nabonidus, towards the god Sîn of Harrān does not mean that she was part of the temple, contrary to what has often been written. The economic role of these very high-status women in sanctuaries mostly rests on donations that can be rather important in value, as the inventory established by P.-A. Beaulieu for Kaššaia testifies (Beaulieu 1998, p. 181-192). The texts mention few religious functions that could have been undertaken by women in neo-Babylonian temples: the ritual during the month of Kislīmu (see Cağırgan-Lambert 1991) indicates the presence of at least a nadītu, who performed during the ritual but whose function is otherwise rarely made explicit. We have also attached the title of sagittu[4] to the religious sphere, which appears in a neo-Babylonian legal text at Uruk. Further, and in a more general manner, their mother’s status seems to have been important for the recruitment of priests and prebend-owners of the temple (Waerzeggers 2008, p. 10 sq.) But all in all, harvest is meagre. However, this can only be a provisional situation when we pay attention to the mention we find in text OIP 122 36 (= Weisberg 2004), reinterpreted by M. Jursa in Waerzeggers  2008. There, we find a woman who performed the function of a salluḫ(a)tu “female water-pourer/sprinkler”, and M. Jursa mentions a letter from Uruk (YOS XXI, 85 letter of Nabû-mukīn-apli to Nabû-aḫ-iddin), in which it is said that:

             “There are not enough female sprinkler for the inner temple precinct. fMuhhû[tu(?)], the daughter of Marduk-[…], should work as a sprinkler (of flour) for the inner temple precinct”.

But this can only be a temporary placement linked to a particular ceremony, and which does not involve a permanent position. Also, if we examine the literary tradition (the Epic of Gilgameš, the Epic of Erra), the cult of Ištar seems to have associated women to certain rites. The corpus we have for neo-Babylonian texts however remains silent on this point. Thus, the only ritual of the Eanna that has survived for this period (UVB 15, 40) cites no female personnel.

 2. The female workforce: the question of status

In fact, we must examine the evidence for other categories of women, those who were part of the temple’s non-religious labour force and who therefore belonged to the lower social classes, that of dependants and slaves. While the purpose of our inquiry here isn’t to produce a synthesis on oblates, we will go through successive points to examine the female population from two angles: their legal status, to see how boundaries between free women and slaves establish themselves, and their social status, in particular the conditions under which temples take poor women issued from the Babylonian population under their care.

 a) the distinction between dependants and oblates  

The question was posed again from a legal angle these last years, during talks discussing the manner in which we should understand the oblates’ category[5]. We can distinguish two essential categories of personnel working for the temple: on the one hand, persons belonging to a large group of dependants in the sanctuary who are legally free but economically bound to temple service, and on the other hand, oblates, bound much more closely to the sanctuary, without being considered purely and simply as slaves, as we find individuals who are both free and former slaves freed by their masters and later dedicated to the divinity. All are indeed said to have been “dedicated” (šarāku ou zukkû) to the principal divinity of the temple. Presently, it remains difficult to precisely identify the women who are only dependants, even if their existence is accepted and recognised by those who have dealt with this system. They were inserted within the nucleus of the family structure, like most of the rural families, it is they in part (next to families of oblate-labourers) whom the temples of Šamaš at Sippar recorded, in fragments of a census that has come down to us (Joannès 1997, p. 129): CT 56 689 mentions wives (aššatu) and daughters of individuals who are apparently farming dependants of the Ebabbar at Sippar; CT 56 796 mentions the children of single women (and so not necessarily free in status); CT 56 803 records the composition of a shepherd’s family (of the Ebabbar?): the shepherd, his wife (aššatu), three sons, a daughter; CT 56 813 lists the arborists’ families of the Ebabbar. These families can constitute a standard model (husband-wife-children), but some of them include the arborist’s wife, others his sister. It is unlikely that families of dependants had slaves associated to their families, while this was more the case for families of urban notables (see the First Workshop). Women who are the most easily identifiable because they are those most cited are in fact oblates (širkatu) who in large part come from private donations, and they can be individuals who were free in status originally (children) or slaves whose owners transferred them, via a dedication process, from their authority to that of the sanctuary: they thus find themselves enfranchised and freed from their legal condition of private slave, but bound through the same process to the principal divinity of the sanctuary.

 b) the dedication’s terms: why a differed donation?

A notable point is that this donation can be immediate or can take place much later: for example, in the year 4 of Nabonidus’ reign, the ša-rēši Ninurta-aḫ-iddin proceeds with a donation that has immediate effect (YOS 6, 56): he dedicates (zukkû) to the Lady of Uruk five individuals (a woman and her four children) designated both as amēlūtu, that is slaves, and as oblates (mí šir-ki-a-ta). We can interpret this procedure as one of “freeing” the 5 slaves from their civil servitude (amēlūtu) to turn them into “serfs” bound to the temple (širku). They therefore are not slaves per se, but they are totally bound to the religious establishment. In year 17 of the same reign, an individual named Iqīšaia makes a differed donation (TCL 12 36): his slave Nanaia-iddin together with her childrens are given to Karanatu, Iqīšaia’s wife. After Karanatu’s death,  Nanaia-iddin will become a zakîtu of Ištar. Finally, we find, but very rarely, self-dedications to the temple, as YOS 6 186 seems to indicate:

 “(Concerning) Nabû-ayyālu, the son of Kullaia, the zakîtu, who said to Nabû-šar-uṣur, the ša rēš šarri : “Kullaia, my mother, is a zakîtu of the Lady of Uruk and she entered into the house of the oblates (= she became a zakîtu while being received as an oblate). 10-x-Nbn 7”.

Of course, the question we should ask is why does the temple welcome these elderly female oblates: the sanctuary doesn’t necessarily have any interest in doing this, but it does so anyway and accepts them even when a donation is differed. The delay, sometimes long, between the legal donation and its realisation can indicate that private families are looking to keep for the longest time possible these slaves as labour force for their own use. They are in their greater majority female slaves: men appear in non-domestic affairs but are less concerned by this procedure. There are two explanations possible, and in fact complimentary, for this practice: the dedication of one or two slaves by a couple to the temple is often preceded by a husband allocating them to his spouse. He thus withdraws the slave from family succession and enables the future widow to subsist thanks to this usufruct, anticipating a division of the estate that may take away her means of subsistence. To later avoid a second phase of inheritance distribution, a potential source of family complications, the slave is dedicated to the temple. The donation to the temple is thus a practical continuation of a dowery’s constitution, to benefit the surviving wife. But we can also understand that upon the donor’s death, the family who inherits is not necessarily any longer interested by a female slave being made available, one most probably quite advanced in age who will no longer make children and whose work capacity has diminished. Therefore by welcoming her, the temple plays a social role and prevents her from a miserable existence. This explanation was proposed by M. Dandamaiev (Dandamaiev 1984, p. 472-487), M. Jursa (Jursa 2006, p. 15, note 80), G. van Driel (van Driel 1998, p. 178-179[6] and note 32), R. Magdalene and C. Wunsch (Magdalene & Wunsch, in press), but the problem is to know whether the temple really did benefit or not from this system.

 c) under whose authority do oblates fall?

This point was also much debated, and the recent study by Magdalene & Wunsch, in press, presents its terms in a very convincing manner: the notion of ownership and legal freedom does not suffice alone to explain oblates’ situations. Contrary to a private slave whose master is the owner, an oblate is not a sanctuary “possession”; he or she enjoys no autonomy vis à vis the sanctuary, even though during the process of the donation to the temple, the master first frees his or her slave[7]. We must therefore take into account the notion that R. Magdalene and C. Wunsch call potestas, defined as the customary legal right that a natural authority (paternal, religious, royal) has over its subordinates, within a family or within an institution. Maintaining or not this potestas determines a potential emancipation. The most evident application of such potestas is that exercised by a father over his daughter when she is to be married. We thus see, once more, the exercise of an authority functioning on and applied to the family (and we should define this as one of the “mental structures” that govern the organisation and the world-view of the people of Mesopotamia). This relationship between father and daughter within the family structure, between the principal divinity and its oblates within the temple structure, based on a potestas is of the same nature than that which ties a patron to his clients in Rome. In Babylonia, an individual legally free can thus remain under the authority of the family head: first his children (daughters especially), but also a certain number of domestics who are free in status. R. Magdalene and C. Wunsch thus propose to interpret the širkūtu as a socio-legal category in which an individual finds himself or herself subject to the potestas of the divinity represented by the temple administration, just as the mār banūtu is the category in which an individual finds himself or herself subject to the family’s authority.

 d) what recovery action can the temple take?

When a slave is dedicated to the temple by his or her master and that the heirs do not respect this donation but keep or sell the slave, the temple can begin a legal action. Several documents illustrate this. We can take as examples texts published by Nadia Czechowicz at the RAI of Helsinki (Czechowicz 2001): Andiya (= Amtiya), a slave named Etellitu was dedicated by her mistress to the Lady of Uruk and recorded as such on the register (gišda = gišlē’û) of the Eanna, in Nbk 35 [570]. But in Nbk 37 [568], the qīpu of the Eanna seems to have withdrawn her and given her back to the son of her donor, Nabū-mušetiq-uddê. However, in Cyrus 2 [537], the temple requests the document from the widow of Nabû-mušētiq-uddê, Innaia, who must produce it or she will have to hand back the slave to the temple. Thus 34 years go by, between the initial donation and the legal case that will fix Andiya’s status. It is possible that text YOS XXI 69 (= NCBT 4), a letter sent by the administration chief (bēl piqitti) of the Eanna to the šatammu Nidinti-Bēl, is linked to this case (but the name of the slave is different):

           (…) the contract which has been established with Innaia[8], mistress of the zakîtu-oblate Ana-bītišu, as well as the contract (established) with the mistress of the zakîtu-oblate Tabluṭu, , which with you… (…)

 A text published by D. Arnaud [Arnaud 1973 = TBER pl. 60-61], also shows that the temple welcomes oblates a long time after their original donation: it concerns a female slave Nanaia-hussinni, who had been dedicated by her master Mār-Esagil-lumur to the goddess Nanaia. But then she was sold (by her master, or rather, after his death, by an heir) to a certain Tattannu. This latter person declares that “she fled from his home during the reign of Amēl-Marduk” (562-560). In the year 17 of Nabonidus (539), representatives of the Eanna initiate a legal action to settle the exact status of Nanaia-ḫussinni. The donation probably took place under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II, that is, at the latest in 563. Around 25 years went by between this donation and the legal action began by the temple. Similarly, YOS 7 91 mentions a non-compliant sale, in year 10 of Nbn [546], of a slave dedicated by her master to the temple, whose contract was examined by the temple assembly in year 6 of Cyrus [533], that is 14 years after. Finally, YOS 19, 91 dated year 2 of Nabonidus [554], mentions a donation dating from year 13 of Nebuchadnezzar II’s reign [592]: almost 40 years have passed. The situation is not the same when dedicated individuals are explicitly presented as children. Thus in OIP 122 n.2 (with collations and reinterpretation by Jursa 2006 and Wunsch 2010): in this latter case, having taken away the children of the slave couple Nabû-rēmanni and Nanaia-silim, it is possible that distributing the parents between the heirs while separating them was allowed, and because of this it was easier to operate the donation: we indeed see that in general there is a reluctance to completely separate slave families, and particularly to take children from their mother. The numerous legal cases and legally binding documents kept for Uruk show that the temple rigorously kept its register up to date (gišlē’û) for its present and even future personnel (those expected to come from a differed donations), and show that the temple initiates legal actions to recover female slaves that were dedicated to it. We see for example that the temple acts to “break up” the family that was constituted by a person named Dayyān-Marduk when he married his slave Bēl-ab-uṣur to an oblate of the Eanna, La-tubāšinni. He must, before 4 months have elapsed, bring to the temple and hand over La-tubāšinni and her children (YOS 7 60). We find the reverse situation in text YOS 7 66: the slave Nuptaia is left at her actual master’s home (the brother of this latter had originally dedicated her to the Lady of Uruk) with her children, until the death of the owner. It is only afterwards that they become part of the temple’s oblates.

e) cases of single women: the zakîtu

Among oblates we find families, and also isolated individuals: very rarely men (zakû)[9], most often women (zakîtu). These women are particular in that they have no matrimonial ties, either because they never had any, or because they lost it upon the death of their husband; but they can have children who are referred to as mār zakîti. Their male offspring therefore belong to the category of the širku but they do not bear male patronyms, aside exceptions (see below). How does one slide from the meaning of zukkû “to free/dedicate” to that of “isolated woman” for zakîtu? In fact, the semantic range of the verb is wider than that of the nominalised verbal adjective. An oblate can fall within the first without being characterised by the second, if she is married[10]. In fact, to call a woman a “zakîtu of DN” is to designate her as “a woman with no ties, oblate of DN”. The zakîtu cannot marry a private individual without the temple’s consent as text YOS 7 92 shows, just as a woman termed a “širkatu of DN” cannot (YOS 7 56) The zakîtu-oblates can have children (born before or after their oblation) as YOS 19 112 shows, and they are in any case clearly considered to be oblates/širku. Also, these sons of zakîtu are not necessarily manual workers: they can integrate the class of skilled craftsmen, as YOS 19 115 illustrates: we thus find among the sons of zakîtu required for the upkeep of the temple weavers-išpar birmu, silversmiths-nappaḫ parzilli. We should note however the correction E. Payne (Payne 2008, p. 60-62) brought forward: she noticed that the same male oblates are sometimes cited with the name of their fathers, while other occurrences show mār zakîti.

 “The most convincing case for this form of dual identification can be made for two brothers working as weavers of colored cloth: Arad-Bēl and Šamaš-ēṭer. In YBC 9027, the two men are identified as brothers and sons of Silim-Bēl, a man unknown in the textile corpus; in YOS 19, 115, they appear in immediate succession, both as sons of a zakîtu-woman. As further corroboration, the men appear in both texts as members of the work group under the direction of Innin-šumu-uṣur, and the other members of the group mentioned in the texts are identical. Given this level of agreement, together with the other evidence, albeit circumstantial, it seems without question that in both instances one and the same individual is intended. A similar case can be constructed for two launderers: Bēl-ēṭer and Nidintu. In YBC 9027, they appear with their brothers (Arad-Innin and Rīmūt, respectively) and are identified as sons of their fathers (Arad-Nabû and Ninurta-šarru-uṣur, respectively). The two launderers, moreover, appear in separate contracts (PTS 3053 and GC 1, 412), identified as the sons of zakîtu-women. Again, an analysis of the work groups shows a high level of continuity and supports the notion that these men, though variously identified, were the same individuals”.

The qualification zakîtu is not to be understood as designating all single women indistinctly however. Young girls “single to be married” are called nārtu, as pointed out by C. Wunsch, (Wunsch 2003, p. 3-7). BM 64026 is very informative on this point (MacGinnis 2002 No. 12 (Bertin 1730) BM 64026, with bibliography):

                  Zittaya the širkatu of Šamaš and wife of Eteru the ikkāru of Šamaš, whose daughter Sudduštu the single girl gave birth to Ubaria in (the time of) her status as single woman, but hid (him) from Marduk-šum-iddin the šangu of Sippar and the scribes: afterwards, in year 6 of Cyrus king of Babylon king of countries she said « Ubaria is [the son of] Sudduštu; he is a širku of Šamaš. Let him enter on to the writing board! » [Marduk-šum-iddin] the šangu of Sippar and [the scribes listened] to Zittaya and according to (the statement of) her daughter inscribed Ubaria [in the writing board of Šamaš]. Witnesses. Sippar,7-x-Cyrus 6.

We therefore have a first category of women who can either be free dependants, or servant oblates, but married in both cases and who work within their family (often in a rural setting) for the temple. We should add a second category, more original, of women servants, oblates AND non-married (zakîtu), who can have children though and constitute monoparental families. The oblates of the first category can be defined as belonging to the immediate labour force of the temple (we must however take into account the fact that the sanctuary does not multiply this immediate workforce, which is costly to maintain, and instead gives preference to the dependence system). As for the oblates-zakîtu they are often present because of the social function of the Babylonian temple (taking care of those who are marginalised) and these women enable the temple to gain from this help through the work they undertake, even when they are aged. The average life expectancy of manual workers for this period was limited to about forty, fifty maximum, indeed, oblates-zakîtu who join the temple upon the death of their private owners never remain there for very long.

 f) the situation of children

Children born from oblates have the same legal status than their parents (see AnOr 8 74 or YOS 7 66), but a widow cannot dedicate her children to the temple because of famine without herself being integrated among the oblates (YOS 6 154): children are given a star-mark to bear and acquire the status of širku, which enables them to have food rations (kurummatu) from the temple. As for the mother, she remains a free and autonomous individual. We sometimes see complex situations, as in YOS 7 60, where an oblate is the spouse of a private slave, but where the temple requests both the mother and the children. Finally, text YOS 19 91 shows that a woman dedicated to Ištar as an oblate transfers her status to her children when they have not been recognised as free individuals. The brother of an individual who had dedicated his slave, Bānitu-rāmat, had a daughter with her, Gāmiltu; but he sold this girl to a private person. The temple thus makes the fact recognised in court as he had renounced, through this sale, his paternity right over her and the temple’s ownership right, passed on by her oblate mother, outweighed the right of the buyer: Gāmiltu is then given the status of zakîtu of Ištar. She integrates the temple’s oblates personnel as a single woman.

 3. The economic activities of the female workforce

This entire system can only be understood if the sanctuary’s authorities see in it an economic interest, because the integration of a donated individual supposes that she will be allocated regular food rations. We can thus deduct from this that the temple makes the oblates it welcomes work, according to their physical capacity. We are thus within the problematic of the Care of Elderly[11], applied here to the management of elderly slaves. We can suppose that there was in Babylonia at this time a high rate of male mortality, and that the problem of old age was no doubt more relevant for women rather than for men: the study by Gehlken 2005 indicates that an average male life expectancy is around 40 years, not taking infant mortality into count. M. Jursa already presented in 2004 identical conclusions (Jursa 2006, p. 56), but insisting on the lack of statistical corpus for women. We can however reasonably hypothesise that women used for domestic labour did not have a life expectancy much higher than men. Speculating that a female slave will only join the temple after around 25 years of private service we would be to attribute her a service-lifespan, as an oblate “in full use”, of between 5 to 10 years maximum.

 a) what type of workforce and for what kind of work?

Tasks assigned to these female oblates are of the same nature as those for the usual sanctuary workforce. Thus we find an oblate (Nanaia-šarrat, wife of Ammaia) referred to as the “oblate working for the service of the Eanna” (lú rig7 i-pu-uš dul-la šá é-an-na) (YOS 6 108). Nanaia-ḫussinni (Arnaud 1973), said to be a zakîtu of Nanaia, is counted among the “workers carrying the brick-basket of the Eanna” (um-man-ni za-bil tup-šik-ku šá é-an-na). As YOS 17 9 shows, dated 15-v-Nbk 43, an oblate of the Lady of Uruk is made available to Issar-māt-tukkin for an annual “rent” of 2 sequels of silver. The location of her assignment outside of Uruk, close to the Harri-ša-Iddinaia canal, in a līmu-district of the Eanna, at a place called “Huṣṣēti-ša-Nabû-uballiṭ” shows that it concerns an assignment with a farmer of the temple. That women, themselves or together with their husband, have temple land to exploit is proven also by certain records, as YOS 17 300 (record of a delivery of dates, for the village levy of Bāb-bitqa). Furthermore, YOS 19 93 shows that an administrator dependant of the temple, the rab qannāti ša širku šā Bēlti ša Uruk, can on his own initiative pledge an oblate in a neighbouring city of Uruk with a private person (= corresponding to a work contract disguised?), and so rented by another private individual for a mandattu­-compensation of 1 sequel of silver per year. It is however probable that the temple was not making its aged female slaves undertake tasks where physical force was essential and which would have needed a speedy execution. A study of women’s work in temples shows that there are in fact two major specialities which are, in a manner of speaking, habitually “reserved” for them: these are food preparation (and particularly grinding grain) and treating textile fibres.

 b) milling activities

But an elderly female workforce remains physically unsuited to the first activity, and we note that an important part of this work is either carried out in a prison (bīt kīli) or in a workshop (bīt qēmêti), by younger female millers. A more detailed presentation of female milling activities can be found in an earlier study by Joannès 2008. K. Kleber arrives at the same conclusion (Kleber 2008, p. 82): “Organisierte Müllerinnen mit Aufsehern sind sowohl für Eanna als auch für die königliche Administration bezeugt”)[12]. We will also note the mention, infrequent however, for “millers (of the palace?) of Babylon” in the archives of Bēl-rêmanni[13] (BM 42353:1-4 (Darius I 26) [translation M. Jursa]):

                  ”86 kor Datteln, [die Ration]en für die Mehlarbeiterinnen von Babylon, unter der Verantwortung von [Šumu-ukīn], dem Aufseher über das Gesinde, zustehend dem Bēl-ēṭer, Sohn von Ina-ṣi[lli-šar]ri, dem für die Mehlarbeiterinnen zuständigen Alphabetschreiber, zu Lasten von (…) »

c) textile work

The most important activity, especially for the most elderly female personnel, is therefore within the textile industry. G. van Driel noted (van Driel 1998, p. 180), regarding a census of labour families, that they can be made up of an important number of oblates:

“The female members of the families of the ploughmen are, as a rule, not included though, presumably, in practise, they served a similar purpose. The reason is probably that these females were registered separately as a general labour, or, perhaps, as belonging to the workforce in textile industry. We know that the rural population had to deliver a fixed amount of textile annually to the institutions to which they belonged”.[14]

 OIP 122 72 (probably written in Uruk) seems to also mention a large quantity of wool (raw for spinning?) received by various recipients among whom at least two women: Aḫabi’ and Ekur-ḫammat. Contrary to Ur III or to Mari (and maybe to the palace of Babylon), neo-Babylonian temples do not have weavers’ workshops at their disposal[15]. If this is not collective labour, then we should perhaps think of it as work from home, most probably following the structure of the iškaru[16]. It seems that this course is not written down at any time, as it is practically not documented in the temple’s archives. It is possible that it also occurs in the form of a debt note that the temple has over a private individual, as illustrated in Jursa 1997, text n.13  dealing with the order of a piece of fabric to be woven in 6 months’ time from wool donated to the temple (translation M. Jursa):

                  «Fünf Minen Gewebe, Preis von zehn Minen Wolle, Eigentum der Herrin von Uruk und Nanājas, zu Lasten von Tuqnāja, der Tochter des Bēl-šumu-iškun. Im Du’ūzu wird sie (die Wolle) geben. Zeugen: Bel-nādin-apli/Zer-Bābili/Ile’i-Marduk, Bēlšunu/Nabū-ahhē-iddin/Egibi, Ištaran-zēru-ibni/Sîn-iddin. Schreiber: Eanna-Sumu-ibni/Ahhēšāja. Uruk, 16. Tebētu, Jahr 31 Nebukadnezar, König von Babylon.»

 This practice is ancient in Uruk, and already attested under the reign of Kandalānu (De Jong Ellis 1984, n.7) :

                  «Ilat and her son Eanna-ibni are assigned to Iqîšaia, son of Marduk-šarrānni and Ṣillaia, son of Eanna-ibni. Each year, Iqîšaia and Ṣillaia will deliver 2  túg-kur-ra–garments to Ištar  of Uruk and Nanaya. (…) Uruk. 14-vi-Kandalānu 6 de Kandalānu»

This does not exclude of course the recourse to workshops and skilled craftsmen when the material concerned is expensive or that the work requires a strong specialisation. These women may also integrate this category, as a text from Uruk cited by E. Payne (Payne 2008 p. 119 = Eames R27 ll. 1-3) shows: “One lubāru-garment and one šalḫu-garment are at the disposal of Hipāya for sewing”. For everything that is fabric and garment based, the treatment (spinning, weaving, finishing) of textile fibres can be done at home or within the context of an extension of women’s domestic economy. Age is not necessarily a handicap for spinning, nor for embroidery in particular.

d) the temple’s property income

The economic activity of women must also be examined from the point of view of the payments that they themselves issue, when they pay the rent for the homes placed at their disposal by the temple. Indeed, the temple rents houses to certain members of its personnel, especially to families, for which it receives the rent price yearly, as shown by two texts Camb. 28 and 29, dated on the same day (3-i-Cyr. 1) that concern the same people (Ina-tēšî-ēṭir and his wife fĒṭirtu) , with a slightly different presentation. We also find single women in certain houses’ lists: for example in Cyrus 135 we find an inventory of 25 sheep, the ownership of the temple of Šamaš, divided into deposits (piqid) placed with private individuals, probably dependants of the Ebabbar. Among them are two women:  fBūsasa and fAkiltu. The situation is the same under Darius I: see for example, Dar. 180 which mentions “fHi[…]ia” as having one sheep in the house. As for text CT 57 26, undatable, it mentions a woman (fNere’immi) who gives the rent for a house she seems to occupy alone, in a village near Sippar. At Uruk, the document OIP 122 n.169 dresses a list of houses allocated by the temple to oblate families comprising a husband, a wife, sons and daughters.

In conclusion…

The female personnel of a temple such as the Eanna of Uruk, the best documented for the neo-Babylonian period from this point of view, only included very few individuals exercising religious functions. Women, mostly, were made part of the workforce often by being integrated in stable families: either as dependants (wives or daughters of farmers-errešu, to use the distinction drawn by M. Jursa), or as oblates-širkātu, married (wives or daughters, then, of farmers-ikkaru); when they remained unmarried, they were called zakîtu, and their male offspring were defined as “sons of zakîtu”. The social status of oblates, following the distinction drawn by R. Magdalene and C. Wunsch, were that of the legally free or freed individuals, but were not emancipated from the potestas that the temple exercised over them as a family chief would over the members of his household.

A certain number of these women were aged, and because of this, were all the more easily transferable from the private sector to the institutional sector. Their presence in the temple responded then to the needs for a workforce as much as for a social help function.

All of the temple’s dependants, whatever the degree of dependency, were integrated within the production cycle which, for women, seems to have concerned two sectors: milling, through the bīt qēmêti, and textile production, through a system analogous to the neo-Assyrian iškaru, in which order-givers provided the raw material (wool and flax) and distributed these in houses inhabited by dependants and oblates, and it was for them to provide fabric in return.

The constant search by the sanctuary for the optimisation of its personnel and production costs, lead administrators to provide their oblates with a minimum of maintenance rations for a maximum of required work, which explains cases where oblates or their children attempted to return to the private sector. But we must not hide nor downplay the role of “retirement home” that the temple played, which is part of a tradition of charitable care undertaken by religious institutions, itself ancient in Mesopotamia. The question remains: to what extent did this care also comprise a very restraining side, leading to confinement and to putting to forced labour impoverished and marginalised populations.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Arnaud D.

1973            “Un document juridique concernant les oblats”, RA 67, 1973, p. 147-156.

Beaulieu P.-A.,

1989            The Reign of Nabonidus, King of Babylon (556-539 B.C.) (Yale Near Eastern Researches 10) New Haven, Yale University Press, 1989

1998            “Ba’u-asītu et Kaššaya, Daughters of Nebuchadnezzar II”, Or. NS 64, 1998, p. 173-201

Bongenaar, A. C. V. M.

1997            The Neo-Babylonian Ebabbar Temple at Sippar: Its Administration and its Prosopography, Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut te Istanbul, 1997 (= Uitgavan van het Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut te Istanbul, PIHANS 80), Leiden, 1997.

Cağırgan G./Lambert W. G.

1991            “The Late Babylonian kislîmu Ritual for Esagil”, JCS 43-45 (1991)-1993, p. 89-106

Czechowicz N.,

2001            “Zwei Frauengeschichten aus den späten Jahren von Nebukadnezar II. Probleme der Interpretation”, in Sex and Gender in the Ancient Near East, Helsinki: Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, 2001, p. 113-116.

Dandamaev, M. A.

1984            Slavery in Babylonia from Nabopolassar to Alexander the Great (626-331 B.C.), 1984, DeKalb, Illinois

De Jong Ellis, M.

1984            “Neo-babylonian Texts in the Yale Babylonian Collection”, JCS 36, 1984, p. 1-63

van Driel, G.

1998            “Care of the Elderly: The Neo-Babylonian Period”, in The Care of the Elderly in the Ancient Near East, edited by Marten Stol and Sven P. Vleeming, Studies in the History and Culture of the Ancient Near East 14 (Leiden–Boston–Köln: Brill), 1998, p. 161–197

Frame, G.

1991            “Nabonidus, Nabu-šarra-uṣur, and the Eanna temple”, ZA 81, 1991, p. 37-86

Jankovic, B.

2007          “Von Gugallus, Überschwemmungen und Kronland”, WZKM 97, 2007, (Festschrift Hunger), p. 219-242

Joannès, F.

1997            “La mention des enfants dans les textes néo-babyloniens”, Ktéma 22, 1997, p. 119-133

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

Jursa, M.

1997           “Neu- und spätbabylonische Texte aus den Sammlungen der Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery”,  Iraq 59, 1997, p. 97-174.

1999            Das Archiv des Bēl-rêmanni. Istanbul, Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut Leiden, Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, 1999.

2006           Neo-Babylonian Legal and Administrative Documents: Typology, Content and Archives, Münster, 2006

2010            Aspects of the Economic History of Babylonia in the First Millennium BC, AOAT 377, Münster, 2010

Kleber K.

2008            Tempel und Palast. Die Beziehungen zwischen dem König und dem Eanna-Tempel im spätbabylonischen Uruk (= Veröffentlichungenzur Wirtschaftsgeschichte im 1. Jahrtausend v.Chr., Band 3) AOAT 358. Münster, 2008.

2011            “Neither Slaves nor thruly free: the Status of the Dependants of Babylonian Temple Households”, in L. Culbertson (éd.), Slaves and Households in the Near East, Papers from the Oriental Institute Seminar, University of Chicago 5-6 March 2010, The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, Oriental Institute Seminars 7, Chicago, p. 101-112.

MacEwan, G. J. P.

1981         “Arsacid Temple Records,” Iraq 43, 1981, p.131-143

MacGinnis, J. D.

1993            “The Manumission of a Royal Slave,” ASJ 15, 1993, p. 99-106

1998            “BM 61152: iškāru and širkūtu in Times of Hardship”, Archiv Orientální 6, 1998,  p. 325–330

2002            “The Use of Writing Boards in the Neo-Babylonian Temple”, Iraq 64, 2002, p. 217–236

Magdalene, R. et Wunsch, C.

in press       (pre-print version) «Freedom and Dependency: Neo-Babylonian Manumission Documents with Oblation and Service Obligations», in W. Henkelman, Ch. Jones, M. Kozuh, & Chr. Woods (eds.), Extraction and Control: Studies in Honor of Matthew W. Stolper (Chicago: Oriental Institute Press)

Payne, E.

2008              The Craftsmen of the Neo-Babylonian Period: A Study of the Textile and Metal Workers of the Eanna Temple, Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University (2007)

Ragen, A.

2006            “The Neo-Babylonian širku: A Social History”, Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University (2006)

Roth, M.

1989            “A Case of contested Status”, Mél. Sjöberg, 1989, p. 481-489

San Nicolò, M.

1941             Beiträge zu einer Prosopographie neubabylonischer Beamten der Zivil- und Tempelverwaltung. SBAW 2, 1941, München

Scheil, V.

1915           “La libération judiciaire d’un fils donné en gage sous Neriglissar en 558 av. J.-C.”, RA 12, 1915, p. 113

von Soden, W.

1968           “Aramäische Worter…. Ein Vorbericht. II (n – z und Nachtrage)”, Or. NS 37, 196, p. 261-271

Waerzeggers, C.

2008          “On the initiation of Babylonian Priests”, ZAR 14, 2008, p. 1-38 (with a contribution by M. Jursa)

Weisberg, D. B.

1971             “Royal Women of the Neo-Babylonian Period”, CRRAI 19, 1971, p. 447sq.

2000            “Pirqūti or Širkūti? Was Ištar-ab-uṣur’s Freedom affirmed or was he re-enslaved? ”, in S. Graziani (éd.), Studi sul Vicino Oriente antico dedicati alla memoria di Luigi Cagni, volume 2. Instituto Universitario Orientale, Dipartimento di Studi Asiatici, Series Minor 61. Naples, p. 1163-1177.

2004            Neo-Babylonian Texts in the Oriental Institute Collection, University of Chicago, Oriental Institute Publications 122, Chicago, 2004

Wunsch, C.

2003           Urkunden zum Ehevermögen und Erbrecht aus verschieden Neubabylonischen Archiven. Dresden


[1] Herodotus however stated in a very clear manner that a pristess would join the god Bēl in the upper chamber of Babylon’s ziggurat, during the Achaemenid period.

[2] Proposed by San Nicolò 1941:69, Beaulieu 1989:122 and Frame 1991:57

[3] This is the position of Kleber 2008 p. 280. This decision by Nabonidus forms part of the reforms he imposed at the very beginning of his reign, during his stay in Larsa.

[4] Scheil 1915. Probably of Aramean origin: see von Soden 1968, p. 271. See, for the parthian period in Babylon, the mention of MacEwan 1981, p. 142 AB 248:14-15 « 10 gín ana túg lu-bu-uš-tu4  gí-gí-i-tu4  mí nar-tu4 šá mu 218-kam na-din » « 10 shekels for the clothing of Gigitu, the songstress for year 218 was expended » (trad. G. J. P. MacEwan).

[5] Jursa 2006, p. 14-15; Kleber 2011, p. 101-111; Magdalene-Wunsch in press; Ragen 2006.

[6] “For our subject, it is of some significance that the temple could function as a kind of repository, or rather dump, for people, i.e. slaves, no longer required by their owners. (…) In practice this means that the slaves are transferred to the temple when they are old and worn. Also for declassed free persons the temple could be a last resort. (…) I retain, however, my doubts, as the temple will have required a quid pro quo, cf. section V 1. Within limits, the temple’s social role must however, be accepted.”

[7] Text OIP 122 38 was especially debated from this point of view: see Roth 1989, Weisberg 2000.

[8] YOS XXI 69:6 mí in-[n]a-a. The name is read in-[b]a-a by E. Frahm and M. Jursa (YOS XXI, p. 64).

[9] OIP 122 n.38 mentions Ištar-ab-uṣur, the lú za-ku-ú of Ištar in Uruk (see Roth 1989). Applied to a man, the term is in fact often disconnected from the dedication to a temple and simply signifies that a slave was freed.

[10] The semantic range of zukkû is presented in Magdalene & Wunsch in press: “Cf. CAD Z s.v. zakû 5. zukkû a 1′ “to free, release.” The verb can of course also refer to a release from obligations (tax or corvée) owed by individuals or communities to the sovereign or to his officials in the context of land grants. Michael Jursa [= Jursa 2006], p. 15, therefore, translates zakû as “free of claims (or the like).” In the case of ASJ 15, pp. 105–06 (BM 64650, edition in MacGinnis 1993; see now also Jursa 2006 pp. 14–15), a slave is released and emancipated, rather than dedicated. He is, nevertheless, referred to as a zakû. The same holds true for a slave woman in BM 38948 (to be published in Wunsch and Magdalene, in press): a-na DUMU.DÙ-nu-tum ú-zak-ki fPN DUMU.SAL ba-ni-i ši-i “he ‘cleansed’ (her) for free status; fPN is a mārat banî (i.e., of free status)”; and OIP 122 [= Weisberg 2004]  37: PN IM.DUB LÚ.DUMU.DÙ-ú-tu ša (slaves) … ik-nu-uk; (slaves) za-ku-ú “PN has issued a ṭuppi mār banûti to (the slaves); … (the slaves) are ‘cleansed ones’ ” (ll. 2–4; 8–9)”.

[11] van Driel 1998.

[12] See texts for reference: AnOr 8 21, Jursa 1997 n.16, PTS 2833, TCL 9 121, TEBR 56, YOS 7 107. We find on several occasions a certain Burāšu mentioned, with the function of team leader. See also Jankovic 2007, p. 223 footnotes 9-10

[13] Jursa 1999, p. 152.

[14] We also note that here we are most probably dealing with hypotheses, and they are for the moment not yet confirmed by the existing textual corpus.

[15] A text from Sippar, mentions however a bīt meḫṣi (CT 55, 222 = BM 92720 = 82-7-14,125): see CAD M2 62b.

[16] On iškaru contrats see Bongenaar 1997, p. 360-361. We could put this system in parallel with the treatment of textile in 19th century France in the North and in Normandy.

Project of prosopographical study of Neo-Babylonian women (french version)

Project of prosopographical study of Neo-Babylonian women
(french version)

 

Yoko WATAI (Post-doctoral researcher, Université Chuo — UMR 7041-ArScAn)

 

Exemplier Yoko Watai

Dans le cadre du projet REFEMA, «Rôle économique des femmes en Mésopotamie ancienne /Women’s role in the economy of Ancient Mesopotamia»), je vais travailler sur la prosopographie féminine néo-babylonienne. Pour cela je vais recenser tous les noms de femmes qui apparaissent dans les documents juridiques et économiques privés, ainsi que dans les archives institutionnelles. Ce travail nous permettra d’analyser des noms féminins eux-même mais aussi d’étudier les nombreuses activités économiques des femmes dans le secteur privé et dans le secteur institutionnel. En raison du nombre de femmes qui se trouvent dans les documents néo-babyloniens, ce projet se terminera dans 3 ans, pour le colloque de 2014. Je présenterai donc seulement l’état actuel et provisoire de ce travail.

<Méthode et source>

J’ai créé une base de données et enregistré 88 femmes et 69 nomspour le moment, c’est-à-dire toutes les femmes mentionnées dans les livres de C. Wunsch concernant les archives d’Iddin-Marduk (CM 3) et les archives d’Egibi (CM 20), sauf les noms complètement cassés. Il faut bien noter que ce ne sont pas 88 noms mais 88 femmes. Les femmes ayant le même nom sont chacune enregistrées sur une fiche (par exemple, on trouve 2 Amat-Ninlil, 3 Ina-Esagila-ramât, etc.). Ilfaut remarquer qu’il y a un «biais» dans le choix des documents, puisque les livres que j’ai consultés, surtout le livre des archives des Egibi, ne traitent que des activités concernant les champs et les jardins.

Je vais maintenant présenter les deux axes de ce travail : les recherches onomastiques et les études sur les activités économiques dont s’occupent les femmes.

I. Etudes onomastiques

Nous allons maintenant observer les noms féminins, leurs constructions et leurs significations. Je les ai classés en deux groupes : les esclaves et les femmes libres, et puis je les ai catégorisés selon leur construction, d’après le livre de Stamm, Die Akkadische Namengebung et d’après l’Appendix de Di Vino, Studies in Third Millennium Sumerian and Akkadian Personal Names.

On trouve donc principalement deux sortes de noms : les «Theophorous Names» (contenant le nom d’un dieu) et les «Non-theophorous Names». Ces noms se divisent ensuite en plusieurs types. Pour les «Theophorous Names» (y compris quand le nom de la divinité est omis), on trouve au moins 5 types :

  1. les «Petitions» : les noms des appels aux dieux qui utilisent l’impératif et l’optatif.
  2. les «Thanksgiving Names», c’est-à-dire les noms qui remercient une divinité pour un événement spécifique (comme la naissance des enfants). Ces deux types appartiennent à la catégorie : «Concret Sentence Names», les noms mentionnant des événements spécifiques.
  3. les «Attribute-Names», qui décrivent la nature des divinités, comme Tašmētu-damqat «Tašmētu est agréable».
  4. 4le «type Sin-abī (Sin est mon père)», expression de la confiance potentielle (ici, Bānītu-tuklatu appartient à ce type.)
  5. les noms «Relation to the deity», ici Amat-nom de divinité. Ces  trois derniers types appartiennent à la catégorie «Generalization», à savoir une expression intemporelle.

Le groupe des «Non-theophorous Names» est constitué de deux types d’«Affectionate Names», qui désignent des enfants: les «Affectionate Names I» sont les désignations par référence aux parents, frères ou soeurs : par exemple, Ramûa «My love», Bēlessunu «Their goddess». Les «Affectionate Names II» contiennent des noms d’animaux, de plantes, etc.

Malgré l’insuffisance des données, on peut quand même dessiner une première tendance dans la construction des noms féminins: une grande partie des noms d’esclaves féminines appartiennent au type «Petitions» et «affectionate Names II». D’autre part, les «Attribute Names» et les «Affectionate Names I» sont préférés pour les noms des femmes libres.

On peut dire que la variété des types de noms féminins est moins grande que celle de noms masculins ; par exemple, les types très utilisés pour les noms masculins, par exemple les «Thanksgiving Names», comme Nabû-aḫḫē-iddin «Nabû (m’)a donné les frères», Marduk-apla-uṣur «Marduk a protégé mon fils», etc. sont rares pour les noms féminins. Et, il n’y a pas de noms féminins contenant des mots qui désignent la relation entre les enfants et les parrains. (On trouve le nom «Marduk a protégé mon fils» mais on ne trouve pas le nom «Marduk a protégé ma fille»)

Concernant les déesses mentionnées dans les noms de femmes, elles sont relativement variées pour l’instant. Dans les noms d’esclaves, les déesses qui apparaissent le plus souvent sont Bānītu et Nanaya (3 noms pour  chacune). On trouve aussi Ištar, Šidada, Mammītu et Zarpanītu. Par ailleurs, dans les noms des femmes libres, Ninlil et Tašmētu apparaissent chacune dans deux noms pour trois personnes. On trouve également Baba, et Nanaya. On peut probablement dire que Ninlil était relativement appréciée pour les noms de femmes, qu’elles soient esclaves, ou femmes libres.

Il me semble qu’il existe une petite différence dans le choix des déesses entre les noms des esclaves et ceux des femmes libres, même si cette différence n’est pas encore très remarquable pour l’instant.

II. Activités économiques des femmes

Nous allons regarder maintenant les activités économiques des femmes apparues dans les documents qui ont été enregistrés sur 88 fiches de la base de données. D’abord, concernant les esclaves, la plupart des femmes sont vendues, prises en gage, données comme dot, transférées dans les contrats de partage et dans les documents de l’héritage, etc.. Quand elles apparaissent comme objet du transfert, on peut dire que les femmes participent passivement aux activités économiques. On sait que les esclaves s’occupaient parfois de transactions, vraisemblablement comme agents de leurs maîtres. En effet, nous avons une attestation dans laquelle une esclave de Ina-Esagila-ramât (la femme d’Iddin-Marduk) apparaît comme créancière de l’argent (BM 30544). Je suis sûr que ce type d’attestations est assez abondant, mais nous n’en avons qu’une seule dans notre base de données pour l’instant.

Au sujet des activités des femmes libres, on consultera les tableaux : je les ai classées en deux catégories : «les femmes propriétaires de terrains» et «les autres activités». Pour la première catégorie, on trouve les «activités actives», par exemple, la vente et l’achat, la location, etc., et les «activités passives», par exemple la réception de terrains, ou la gestion par quelqu’un d’autre d’un terrain qui leur appartient, etc. Les autres activités sont constituées des transactions concernant l’argent et des esclaves. On peut donc également qualifier cette catégorie d’«activités actives».

Parmi les «actives actives», on trouve deux catégories : dans le premier cas, les femmes ont une participation indépendante, tandis que dans le deuxième cas, elles agissent avec quelqu’un d’autre, en général un membre de la famille, comme leur mari, leurs fils, leurs frères et même leurs beaux-frères.

L’activité la plus fréquente, soit indépendante, soit avec quelqu’un, est la vente de terre. On trouve deux attestations de vente d’une propriété conjointe entre des soeurs, deux où la femme agit avec son fils, un avec son frère et deux avec son beau-frère. Il n’y a pas, dans le corpus enregistré jusqu’à maintenant, d’attestation indiquant qu’elles vendent le terrain avec leur mari. Mais on en trouve dans le corpus concernant les maisons que j’ai établi pour ma thèse: elles le vendent soit seule soit avec d’autres membres de la famille. Cela nous permet de supposer que c’est normalement le mari qui vend des terrains et que les femmes citées comme vendeuses sont principalement des veuves ou des célibataires.

Les femmes ou les mères (c’est-à-dire la «maîtresse de maison», bēlet bītim) des vendeurs sont souvent présentées à la fin de la liste des témoins habituels et introduites par la phrase ina ašābi dans les contrats de vente des terrains et des maisons (voir dans le document joint le tableau 1.2 «participation passive»). Il reste difficile de comprendre quelle est la qualification de cette présentation comme témoin dans les contrats de ventes d’immobilier, si l’on considère que les femmes n’ont aucun droit sur les terrains. Mme S. Démare-Lafont m’a indiqué au cours d’une discussion sur ce sujet que, selon elle, la formule ina ašābi dans la liste des témoins désignerait une garantie pour leur situation postérieure, si elles deviennent veuves. De mon côté, quand j’en ai traité dans ma thèse au chapitre du contexte de la vente des maisons, j’ai proposé qu’il s’agisse d’un «droit social de propriété», plutôt qu’un droit juridique de plein exercice et que la mention ina ašābi parmi les témoins concerne l’usage des maisons et témoigne du «pouvoir» exercé par les femmes à l’intérieur de la maison. Mais au vu des attestations dans des contrats de vente, il faut compléter cette dernière hypothèse. On remarque ainsi que les maîtresses des maisons vendues (bēlet bīti) reçoivent les vêtement lubāru des acheteurs des maisons dans plusieurs contrats de vente des maisons, mais non pas dans les contrats de vente de terrains agricoles. Il me semble concerner un certain droit sociale de propriété latent des femmes, constitué à l’intérieur des maisons.)

D’autre part, en dehors des textes de vente, on trouve des attestations de copropriété à l’intérieur d’un couple: on trouve par exemple un contrat d’échange qui atteste une copropriété d’une femme avec son mari. La femme, appelée Kabtaya, et son mari donnent un tmerain à leur petit-fils, c’est-à-dire le fils de leur fille, celle-ci ayant déjà disparu.

La catégorie «activités passives» dans l’immobilier comprend des activités qui documentent la propriété féminine sans que les femems participent aux activités de gestion économique des biens:

  1. les femmes reçoivent des terrains des membres de leur famille, principalement de leur père, en dot, mais aussi de la part de leur mari et de leurs fils, sans doute pour assurer leur entretien en cas de décès du mari.
  2. on trouve des femmes qui sont propriétaires d’un bien immobilier, mais dont ce sont les maris ou les frères qui le donnent à exploiter en fermage. On trouve aussi quelques attestations où elles donnent elles-mêmes les terrains en location, mais il plus fréquent que ce soit les maris qui les gèrent.
  3. des femmes sont attestées comme voisines des terrains mentionnés dans des contrats: ces attestations témoignent aussi du fait que des femmes sont propriétaires du bien immobilier.
  4. on trouve des femmes qui se présentent pourtémoigner dans des contrats de transfert du terrain. On trouve ainsi deux sortes d’expressions : «ana mukinnūtu ašābu», tel qu’écrit dans le texte, et ina ašābi, qu’on a déjà vu. Ces deux expressions sont assez semblables l’une à l’autre, en utilisant le même verbe. Mais il me semble que l’expression ana mukinnūtu ašābu est employée pour quelqu’un qui a un droit de propriété, afin d’indiquer qu’il a bien abandonné son droit. Cette expression ne concerne donc pas uniquement des femmes, tandis que l’expression ina ašābi s’applique toujours aux femmes ou aux mères des vendeurs. Les témoins ina ašābi ne sont pas forcément toujours catégoriséscomme des «femmes propriétaires de terrains», mais je pense qu’elles ne sont pas quand même complètement étrangers aux transferts des propriétés familiales.

Un autre problème doit maintenant être examiné : est-ce que toutes les propriétés des femmes sont incluses dans leurs dots ou non? Quand elles achètent les terrains, on peut sans doute considérer que les femmes deviennent propriétaires de terrains qui ne sont pas attachés à leur dot. Je voudrais ainsi examiner la possibilité que les femmes aient le droit de posséder les terrains qui ne relèvent pas de la dot.

(1) On trouve plusieurs attestations dans lesquelles sont présentes des femmes comme contractantes principales, même si de temps en temps elles sont mentionnées avec leurs maris. On pourrait considérer que ces terrains font partie de la dot de ces femmes, même si cela n’est pas stipulé dans les documents, puisqu’on sait que le mari peut utiliser la dot de sa femme. Mais la situation est manifestement plus compliquée dans quelques documents, où les femmes vendent des terrains avec parfois leur beau-frère, c’est-à-dire le frère du mari. Dans ce cas, ces terrains me semblent plutôt appartenir au patrimoine de la famille du mari. Une hypothèse possible est alors que la femme a reçu le droit de demander une part du bien de son mari pour compenser l’intégration de sa dot dans les terres gérées par le mari.

Dans le texte Nbn 1031, où il s’agit de la vente d’un terrain, il est dit que : «si NP (le vendeur), les frères du vendeur et la femme du père du  vendeur sont présents sur le contrat (ana mukinnūtu ašābu), NP2 (probablement un agent de l’acheteur ?) payera l’argent». Ici aussi, donc, le vendeur a besoin de la présence de la femme de son père (= seconde femme de son père?) dans le contrat de vente.

On peut également citer un autre exemple, dont le contexte reste cependant assez compliqué à analyser. Il s’agit d’un dossier concernant une femme appelée Kurunnam-tabni (ou aussi Kuttaya). Kurunnam-tabni d’abord, a reçu un terrain et des esclaves de la part de ses fils (BM 302398). Puis, concernant un terrain qu’elle aurait reçu, en compensation de sa dot, de la part des «scribes du roi», elle ne donne pas à son fils aîné la moitié de terrain qui lui revient (RA 41, 101). (On ne sait pas pourquoi les «scribes du roi» lui ont donné le terrain.) Ses deux fils (ou beaux-fils ?) font alors un procès contre elle à propos du terrain et des esclaves qu’ils ont donnés. Enfin, les fils de Kurunnam-tabni vendent chacun leur terrain à un nommé Nabû-bāni-aḫi et ce dernier les vend à Nabû-aḫḫē-iddin de la famille Egibi. Le texte Nbn 1111 dit que la femme d’un des fils devra siéger comme témoin (ana mukinnūtu ašābu) au contrat de vente du terrain que son mari et ses frères ont vendu.

Il me semble que la phrase ana mukinnūtu ašābu s’applique ici à quelqu’un qui a un droit de propriété en bonne et due forme, afin d’indiquer qu’il a bien abandonné son droit. On peut donc supposer que Kurunnam-tabni disposait d’un droit de propriété partiel sur la terre de son mari. Dans le texte Nbn 442, la femme de l’autre fils de Kurunnam-tabni donne la tablette du terrain que son mari a fait établir à Nabû-bāni-aḫi, puis à Nabû-aḫḫē-iddin, les acheteurs du terrain. Dans les deux cas, les maris, c’est-à-dire les fils de Kurunnam-tabni doivent être décédés, et vraisemblablement ils n’avaient pas d’enfant.

On voit donc bien par ces exemples que certaines femmes participent à la gestion des biens immobiliers de leurs maris. C’est un premier point.

(2) Le deuxième point à souligner est qu’on trouve des exemples de propriété commune et indivise entre des soeurs. Dans le texte BM 33056+, trois filles de Šamaš-udammiq de la famille de Maštuk : Bēlilitu, Nadaya et Ina-Esagila-ramât vendent un champ qu’elles ont reçu de leur mère. À ce moment, Ḫibuṣu, la femme du frère du père de ces trois filles conteste cette vente, et fait un procès avec son fils. Elle déclare que son mari, c’est-à-dire le frère du père des trois filles, n’avait pas fait de réclamation quand Tašmētu-damqat, la mère des trois filles, avait reçu ce terrain et qu’il l’avait donc mis à sa disposition. Mais malheureusement les lignes suivantes sont cassées et on ne peut pas savoir pour quelle raison exacte Ḫibuṣu et son fils ont fait cette réclamation. On sait, par un autre document, que les trois filles ont déposé 55 sicles d’argent chez Nabû-aḫḫē-iddin de la famille Egibi et que cet argent devait servir à payer Ḫibuṣu et son fils. En tout cas, il semble que le fils de Ḫibuṣu est encore très jeune et que c’est en son nom, fondamentalement, qu’elle fait cette réclamation. Ce document nous montre donc comment des filles reçoivent un terrain des leur mère, tandis que leur tante par alliance fait une contestation contre les membres de la famille. Ce dossier me semble documenter une forme de propriété des femmes à côté de la dot.

Pour récapituler, on pourrait donc trouver la possibilité d’une propriété des femmes en dehors de la dot dans les trois cas ci-dessous:

  • en premier lieu, dans le cas où des femmes achètent directement un terrain.
  • en deuxième lieu, après la mort de leur mari, quand les femmes deviennentpropriétaires d’une part des biens de leur mari qu’elles ont à partager cesbiens avec les frères du mari. Il est possible de considérer cette part comme une compensation de leur dot, quand celle-ci a été intégrée au patrimoine familial mais les documents ne nous donnent pas toujours beaucoup d’informations à ce sujet.
  • en troisième lieu, les filles peuvent hériter un bien de leur famille, probablement quand elles n’ont pas de frères.

Si l’on se tourne vers les activités féminines autres que celles qui concernent la propriété des biens immobiliers, nous avons également beaucoup d’attestations d’autres activités, notamment liées à l’usage de l’argent: comme créancières ou débitrice. On peut noter déjà que les femmes apparaissent plutôt en position d’indépendance quand elles prêtent de l’argent, alors qu’elles sont souvent associées à des membres de leur famille quand elles empruntent. Mais il s’agit là d’une recherche qui commence, et je ne peux pas fournir d’analyse détaillée à ce sujet pour l’instant.

Ce que je viens de présenter est donc une première étape dont tousles aspects ne sont pas définitifs puisque nous sommes au début de travail.Il est certain que l’accroissement de la base de données prosopographiquespermettra d’enrichir le corpus et de diversifier les conclusions, que j’espère pouvoir présenter dans la suite du déroulement du projet.

Project of prosopographical study of Neo-Babylonian women (japanese version)

Project of prosopographical study of Neo-Babylonian women
(japanese version)

Yoko WATAI (Post-doctoral researcher, Université Chuo — UMR 7041-ArScAn)

 

Exemplier Yoko Watai

REFEMA プロジェクトにおける私のテーマは、新バビロニア時代の女性のプ

ロソポグラフィー研究である。私的・公的な経済文書にあらわれる女性の名前

を集め、それらの女性達がどのような経済的な役割を担っていたかを概観・考

察する。この研究は2014 年の学会で終了する予定であり、そのため各ワークシ

ョップでは、まとまった形での発表をするのではなく、その都度の進行状況を

発表することになる。したがってそこでの結果は暫定的なものとなる点をここ

で確認しておきたい。

 

<史料と方法>

まず史料に関して。手始めに、C. Wunsch のIddin-Marduk(CM 3) と

Egibi-Archiv I (CM 20)を参照にして、ここに出てくる全ての女性(名前が破損

している場合を除く)をデータベースに入力した。現段階で、88 人(同名の別

人がいるため名前の数は69)の名がデータベース上に登録されている。1 つ指

摘しておかなければならない点は、史料の種類に偏りが見られる点である。と

くにEgibi-Archiv I では、耕地や果樹園関係の取引をテーマにしているため、扱

われている文書は当然耕地や果樹園に関するものとなり、そこにみられる経済

活動もまた耕地・果樹園関係が多くを占める。(なお、博論のために作成した家

に関する文書のデータは、今回は使用していない。)

I. 名前の研究

女性の名前の構造について。ここでは「女奴隷」と「自由人の女性」に分け、

Stamm, Die Akkadische Namengebung と、(用語の英訳に関しては)Di Vino, Studies

in Third Millennium Sumerian and Akkadian Personal Names を参照に、構造別に簡

単に分類した。まず、大きく分けて、神名のついたTheological names(神名や

その他の部分が省略されているものも含める)と、神には関係ないProfane

Names がある。Theological names には、(1)命令形や希求法で神に直接呼びか

ける「懇願(Petitions)」、(2)子どもの誕生のような特別な出来事に関して神に

感謝するThanksgiving Names。この2 つは、具体的な特定の出来事に関する名

前Concret Sentence Names に属する。そして、(3)神の性質について述べる

Attribute-Names (例えばTašmētu-damqat )、(4)

Sin-abī タイプ(Sin は私の父)。

これは潜在的信頼を表し、ここではBānītu-tuklatu があてはまる。(5)神との関係

を示す名前、例えばAmat-DN など。この後の3 つは、非時間的・普遍的な

Generalization に属する。

Profane Names は、2 つのタイプのAffectionate Names に分かれる。

Affectionate Names I は、両親、兄、姉から生まれた子どもに対する名前

Ramûa « My love », Bēlessunu « Their goddess »)、Affectionate Names II は

動物や植物など具体的な事物の名前である。

まだデータが少ないため、はっきりとした結論を出すことはできないが、現

段階で女性の名前にいくらかの傾向を見出すことは可能であるように思われる。

奴隷身分の女性の名前では、「懇願」と、動物などのAffectionate Names II がほ

とんどを占めるのに対し、自由身分の女性の名前には、Attribute Names が多く、

奴隷階級の名前には見られないAffectionate Names I が見られる。女性の名前は、

男性の名前よりもバリエーションが少ないように思われる。例えば、男性の名

前にみられる、Nabû-aḫḫē-iddin « Nabû が兄弟たちを与えてくれた »、

Marduk-apla-uṣur「Marduk が息子を守ってくれた 」という名前は見られない。

また、名付け親と子どもとの関係を示す言葉は、女性の名前には使われない

(「Marduk が息子を守ってくれた 」はあるが、「Marduk が娘を守ってくれた 」

は見られない)。

Theological name にみられる女神の名は、女奴隷では、BānītuNanaya

が共に3 例、Ninlil が2 例、その他イシュタル、シダダ、マミートゥ、ザルパニ

ートゥがそれぞれ1 例ずつある。自由人階級の女性の名前では、ニンリル、タ

シュメートゥがそれぞれ3 例(同名2 件含む)、ババ、ナナヤもそれぞれ1 つず

つである。ナナヤは、奴隷階級、自由人階級問わず、人気があるといえるかも

しれない。

このように、奴隷階級と自由人階級の女性では、名前に若干の違いがあるよ

うに思われる。ただし、この違いがどの程度のものなのか、断言することは今

の段階ではできない。

II.

次に、女性の携わる経済活動について。

まず奴隷階級の女性に関しては、そのほとんどが、売られたり、主人の抵当

のかたにとられたり、持参財として与えられたり、財産分割や相続で譲渡され

たりと、譲渡の対象としてあらわれる(経済活動への受動的参加)。奴隷が、お

そらく主人の代行として、商業活動に携わっている例も知られており、データ

ベースでもIddin-Marduk の妻Ina-Esagila-ramât の女奴隷が債権者として出て

くる例が見られる。こうした例はもっと多いはずだが、現時点では1 例にとど

まる。

次に、自由人階級の女性の経済活動には、「土地所有者としての女性」と、「そ

の他の活動」がある。前者(土地に関わる活動)には、土地売買、賃貸など「積

極的参加」と、土地を贈与される、所有地が他の人によって運用されるなど「受

動的参加」に分けられる。

さらに、前者の「積極的な経済活動参加」の場合、女性が独立して1 人で経

済活動に携わっている場合と、夫、息子、兄弟、さらには義理の兄弟(夫の兄

弟)といった家族のメンバーと共に経済活動に参加している場合がある。

現時点のデータにおいて、もっとも多いのが土地の売買に関する契約である。

女性が誰かと共に当事者となっている場合では、姉妹が2 例、息子が2 例、兄

弟が1 例、義理の兄弟が2 例みられる。現時点のデータベースには、女性が夫

と共に土地を売っている例は見つからないが、家に関する文書においてはいく

つかみられる。

ところで、土地の売買文書には、売り手の妻もしく母が、証人リストの最後、

ina ašābi というフレーズと共に示されることがある。その家の女主人の承認を得

るといえるのであるが、この女性たちは、どのような「資格」でそこに名を連

ねているのか。この問題について、Sophie Démare-Lafont は、彼女たちが寡婦

になった場合の保証に関係しているのではないかとの案を提示した。私は、博

士論文でこの問題にふれたときには、ina ašābi として登場する女性は、家の中の

「実質的な」用益権に関わっている(つまり、家の中は女性の領域であり、法

的には女性に所有権はなくても、社会関係的にその家の女主人の承認を得る必

要があったのでは)と考えたが、家だけでなく農地の売買契約にもina ašābi 証

人が登場することから、その見解は訂正が必要であろう(ただし、家の売買文

書においては、売り家の女主人bēlet bītilubāru という衣服を買い手が贈って

いる例がしばしばみられる。それに対して耕地の売買ではlubāru の言及はみら

れないので、家に対して女性が何らかの社会的権利を有していたという証拠に

なるかもしれない。)

土地売買以外にも、夫とともに土地交換の当事者としてあらわれている場合

がある。また、Kabtaya という女性は、夫とともに土地を孫(すでに死亡した娘

の子ども)に与えている。

女性が土地所有者であることを示してはいるものの、積極的に経済活動に介

入していない「受動的参加」に関しては:(1)家族のメンバーから土地を贈与さ

れている場合(父から持参財として、もしくは夫・息子から、夫の死後の扶養

のため)。(2)女性の土地を、夫などが小作に出している場合。女性が自ら土地

を貸す場合もあるが、夫によって運用される場合が多い。(3)文書で言及され

る土地の隣人として登場する場合。(4)文書で証人として登場する場合。証人

の言及には2 つの表現がある。まずana mukinnūtu ašābu は、本文中で言及され、

もともと何らかの所有権を持っている(誰かが土地を売った場合、その売買契

約に異議を唱えられる)人物が、その権利を放棄し、所有権の譲渡を承認する

場合に用いられる。そしてina-ašābi は、すでに述べたように、土地もしくは家

の売り手の妻もしくは母がそれによって言及される。こうした証人としての役

割は、必ずしも「土地所有者としての女性」として分類できないが、それでも、

これらの女性は土地の所有権の譲渡にまったく無関係というわけではなかった

といえる。

さて、女性の所有地といえば持参財であるが、持参財以外にも女性の土地所

有は認められるのだろうか。すでに見たように、女性が土地を購入している例

は女性が持参財ではない土地を所有したことを示しているが、その他に持参財

以外の女性の土地所有の可能性があったのか簡単に見てみよう。

(1) まず、すでに述べたように、女性が当事者として(しばしば夫とともに)あ

らわれる土地に関する契約が数多くみられる。これらの例では、文書にそう

と明記されていないが持参財であった可能性もある(夫は妻の持参財を運用

できた)。ただし、女性が夫の兄弟と共に土地を売買している文書もいくつか

みられる。この場合、女性の財産ではなく、夫側の財産であったと思われ、

妻が亡き夫の財産を相続しているように見える。女性の持参財を夫が取り、

子どもができずに夫が死亡した場合、妻は持参財に相当するものを夫の家か

ら取ることができた(LNB)ことに関係するという可能性は考えられる。耕

地の売買を扱っているNbn 1031 では、「もしNP(売り手)、売り手の兄弟た

ち、売り手の父の母が証人として立ち会えば(ana mukinnūtu ašābu)、NP2(買

い手の代理人? ) は代金を支払う」と述べられている。ここで、

Kurunnam-tabni (もしくはKuttaya)という女性の登場する一連の文書を見て

みよう(要約、テキストはレジュメ参照)。この文書群は、女性が夫の土地の

運用に何らかの関わりがあったことを示す。

(2) 二つ目に指摘されるのは、姉妹間で土地の共同所有がみられる点である。

Šamaš-udammiq の娘達に関する文書(レジュメ参照)。Šamaš-udammiq

財産をその妻が受け継ぎ、それを3 人の娘が受け継ぎ、彼女達が売却してい

る。この文書群は、持参財以外に女性が土地を相続し、それを運用する例を

示すといえる。

つまり、以下の3 つの場合において、女性の持参財以外の土地所有の可能性

がみられる。

第一に、女性が土地を購入している場合。

第二に、夫の死後、夫の家の財産における一部を妻が兄弟と分割している場

合。

第三に、おそらく男の兄弟がいないとき、娘たちが財産を相続している場合。

土地所有以外の経済活動に関しては、銀の債権者、債務者としてあらわれる

場合が多くみられる(債権者の場合は単独で、債務者の場合は家族のメンバー

とともにあらわれることが多い)。ただし今回はこれに関しては多くふれない。

プロソポグラフィー研究は始まったばかりであり、以上述べたことは途中経

過であって、完全な結論というわけではない。今後の研究の進行を待たれたい。

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)

 

Introduction

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.

Conclusion

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.

Women and family solidarities in the Murašû Archive (Nippur – Fifth century B.C.)

Women and family solidarities in the Murašû Archive
(Nippur – Fifth century B.C.)


Gauthier TOLINI
(Post-doctoral researcher, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne — UMR 7041-ArScAn
)

INTRODUCTION

                  For this first meeting dedicated to “Women and Economy in Ancient Mesopotamia : the household setting”, I was interested about the role of the women in the Murašû Archive. In spite of few women’s attestations, I was surprised to see that the majority of them intervened in a context of solidarity when their family had to face a situation of debt. It’s this subject concerning the women and the family solidarities that I would like to expose to you. In first, let’s start with some general considerations about the Murašû Archive. The campaigns of archeological excavations in Nippur at the end of the Nineteenth century have set to light a large archive of more than height hundred cuneiform tablets belonging to the sons of Murašû. These texts spread over from the beginning of the Artarxerxes I.’reign to the beginning of the Artaxerxes II.’s reign, from 455 to 404 B.C., but mainly concentrates during the period of transition between the end of Artaxerxes I. and the beginning of the Darius II.’s reign. We can notice an extraordinary peak of the preserved documentation during the first year Darius II (423 B.C.).The principal actors of the Murasšûs firm are Enlil-shum-iddin and his nephew Remut-Ninurta. Their economic activities illustrate especially a man’s world. Indeed, The members of this family manage lands belonging to the Persian crown which were entrusted to : soldiers, great administrators of the Persian Empire and male members of the Persian nobility. So, it’s not a surprise, if we just found very few names of women in this archive. In fact, we have only 27 female names inside the 2200 names mentioned in the Archive.

1. WHO ARE THE WOMEN QUOTED IN THE MURAŠÛ ARCHIVE ?

                  By taking into account the legal status and the social-economic position, we can divide these women into three main categories :

                  1) Three women belong to the Iranian nobility. They hold lands in Nippur, but they are not physically there, they just manage their lands through members of their staff and through the Murashû firm:

Amisiri’                  BE 9, 39 : 2 ; BE 10, 45 : 9 ; EE 1 : 4, 5 ; IMT 38 : 3

Madumitu              BE 9, 39 : 2 ; IMT 38 : 2 ; IMT 39 : 11 ; PBS 2/1, 75 : 3

Purušatu/iš           BE 10, 97 : 14, Lo.E. ; BE 10, 131 : 27 ; PBS 2/1, 38 : Lo.E. ; PBS 2/1, 50 ; PBS 2/1, 60 : 2, 5, 8 ; PBS 2/1, 75 : 3 ; PBS 2/1, 146 : 27 ; PBS 2/1, 147 : 27, U.E. ; TuM 2-3, 185 : 2, 9, 12.

 

                  2) Six women are slaves, they are mentioned in sale contracts :

Attar-dannat, slave of Nabu-dilini’, mother of Nanaia-bulliṭininni     JCS 53, n°9 :2, 8, 11

Attar-ṭabat      IMT 104 : 1, 6

Bisaha’             IMT 104 : 2, 6

Nanaia-bulliṭininni, daughter of Attar-dannat     JCS 53, n°9 : 4, 8, 11

Šakha’              IMT 104 : 2, 7

Ubartu              IMT 104 : 1, 6

 

                  3) Eighteen women can be identified as free women and inhabitants of the region of Nippur. My present study concerns only this last category of women. As we can see, this last group is not homogeneous at all :

3. Free women and inhabitants of Nippur

3.1. Independant and active women

Naqqitu, daughter of Murašu     EE 46 : 5, 7

Belessunu     BE 10, 74 : 5, 16 ; IMT 61 : 5

3.2. Women acting inside their family group in a situation of debts

3.2.1. Women mentionned in promissory notes

Amat-Belti, daughter of Makkur-Enlil, wife of Na’id-Enlil, son of Arad-Ninurta     BE 9, 53 :13, Lo.E.

Arditu, daughter of Baniya, mother of Šum-iddin     BE 10, 2 : 2, U.E.

Belessunu, daughter of Ah-ereš, wife of Šum-iddin, son of Zabudu     BE 9, 58 : 3, L.E.

Nanaia-ta-hu-šà, wife of Nidintu, mother of Hašdaia and Abdida’     IMT 93 : 6, 15

Nidintu, daughter of Ibaia     BE 10, 3 : 2

3.2.2. Women in connection with the prison

3.2.2.1. Women detained in prison

Amat-Nanaia, wife of [NP]     EE 101 : 3’, 5’’

Baruka’, wife of  Kuṣura     EE 100 : 4, 9, 10

Bazita, wife of Nabu-nadin     IMT 103 : 3, 7, 9

Kussigi, wife of Akka     EE 100 : 3, 8, 10

Limitu-Belet, wife of Ribat     EE 100 : 3, 8, 10

The wife of Bel-ibni, son of Nanaia-duri’     TuM 2/3, 203 : 5, 11

The wife of Nadir, son of Hašdaia     TuM 2/3, 203 : 4, 10

3.2.2.2. Women asking for the liberation of a relative

Amat-Esi’, wife of Illulata’     PBS 2/1, 17 : 2, 13

Mammitu-ṭabat, daugther of  Bel-eṭir, sister of Šiṭa’     PBS 2/1, 17 : 1, 12

3.3. Other situations

Esagil-belet, daughter of Enlil-ittannu, wife of Mitradatu, mother of Bagamiri     BE 9, 48 : 37 = TuM 2/3 144 : 36

Riša     IMT 44 : 5

                  On a first hand we can find some independent and active women. It’s the example of Naqqitu, daughter of Murašû who manages a land. This text is the only one which mentions Naqqitu. It’s important to say that, here, Naqqitu does not act instead of her brothers because the text says that the “land is under the management of Naqqitu (ša ina pāni ša Naqqitu)”. So, we have to admit that Naqqitu received the management of several lands of the crown. Maybe, the majority of her own archive was preserved in another place than the Murašû’s sons’ archive :

Text n°1: EE 46

(1-5)(Concerning) the 2 minas of white silver, out of 2 minas ½ of silver, plus straw, rental of fields, for fields planted with trees and in stubble, belonging to Aplaia, son of [PN], Ah-iddin, son of Nanaia-iddin, Ukittu and Ṣil[la- …], (payment of which is due) on the month of Tašrītu (vii) of the 29th year and on the month of Aiāru (ii) of the 30th year of King Artaxerxes (I.), (lands) which are under the management of (ša ina pāni ša) fNaqqitu, daughter of Murašû : (6-8)Zabaddu, foreman (šaknu) of the gate-guards, son of Bel-[…], received them from the hands of fNaqqitu, daughter of Murašû ; he is paid.

(1’-5’)(Witnesses and scribe). 

(5’-7’)Nippur, 9th of aAbu (v), 29th year of Artaxerxes (I.), king of the Lands (= 436 B.C.).

(Le.Ed)Cylinder-seal of Enlil-ittannu, the paqdu.

                  With these rare exceptions of active women like Naqqitu who belongs to the urban notability, a majority of women are mentioned in a situation of debts inside their family group. To face a need of credits, a family can use two ways of solidarity to obtain silver or barley :

                  1) People borrow goods inside their family, this “horizontal solidarity” between the members of a same family doesn’t produce written documents.

                  2) But when the resources of a family are not enough to face the needs, people can borrow silver or barley to the members from the urban notability as the Murashûs’sons. This “vertical solidarity” produces a lot of written documents.

                  With the Murašû Archive, we can see these two circles of solidarities contacting when the members of a same family come together to meet the urban elite and when the debtors take the responsibility for each other’s to pay back the creditors. Inside these family solidarities, women, as mothers and wives, played an important role in different situations.

2. THE FEMININE SOLIDARITIES

 

First situation : Feminine solidarity in family businesses

                  The text BE 9, 53 seems to illustrate the role of solidarity of a wife in a family business. A man, Na’id-Ninurta has to deliver sheeps and wool to the Murašû. Numerous members of his family are guarantors for the penalty : his two sons, his wife, Amat-Belti, and his brother-in-law :

Text n°2: BE 9, 53

(1-3)124 sheeps-qunnunītu and 2 talents ½ of wool-qunnunītu belonging to Enlil-šum-iddin, son of Murašû, are the debt of Na’id-Ninurta, son of Arad-Ninurta. (4-6)The 20th of Tašrītu (vii) of the 37th year, he will deliver the 124 sheeps-qunnunītu and the 2 talents ½ of wool. (6-10)If he does not deliver the 124 sheeps-qunnunītu and the 2 talents ½ of wool on the appointed day, he will give 12 minas of refined silver the 25th day of tašrītu (vii) of the 37th year. (10-14)Ninurta-ah-iddin, son of Makkur-Enlil, Eriba-Enlil and Enlil-ah-iddin, sons of Arad-Ninurta, and fAmat-Belti, wife of Na’id-Ninurta, daughter of Makkur-Enlil, guaranteed the repayment of the 12 minas of silver.

(15-21)(Witnesses and scribe).

(21-23)Nippur, 1st Ulūlu (vi), 37th year of Artaxerxes (I.), King of the lands (= 428 B.C.).

(Lo.E.)Ring of fAmat-Belet. (L.E.)Cylinder seal of Arad-Enlil, son of Širikti-Ninurta.

                  So, this text shows the horizontal solidarity inside the family of Nai’d-Ninurta. It seems that all these members of this family are invested in this activity of shepherding including the wife and her family. We can notice that Amat-Belet sealed the tablet with a ring. It’s the only reference of seal belonging to a woman in the Murashû Archive. The ownership of this object seems to show that this woman has a relatively high economic and social position.

 

Sceau Murašû
Ring of Amat-Belti, daughter of Makkur-Enlil
(Picture of W. Balzer)

The Amat-Belti’s ring is described as follows : “A recumbent winged lion facing right. In front of him is a stalk” (Bregstein 1993 : n°392).

Second situation : Feminine solidarity in promissory notes

                   Text BE 8, 126 is a contract drafted at the end of the Babylonian year which records the receipt of dates lent by ŠṢum-iddin, son of Zabudu. The debtor gave them back to the wife of the creditor : Belessunu. She has to register the payment to Šum-iddin, son of Ṣilli-Ninurta :

 

Text n°3: BE 8, 126

(1-3)(Concerning) the 3 672 litres of dates belonging to Šum-iddin, son of Zabudu, which is the debt of Ninurta-uballiṭ, slave of [PN] : (4-6)fBelessunu, daugther of [Ah-ereš], has received the 3 672 litres of dates from Ninurta-uballiṭ. (7-9)She will enter the payment in the book of Šum-iddin, son of Ṣilli-Ninurta, and she will give (a written confirmation fo this fact) to Ninurta-uballiṭ.(10-15)(Witnesses and scribe).

(16)Nippur, the 6th Addaru (xii), 37th year  of Artaxerxes (I.), King of the Lands (= 427 B.C.).

(L.E.)Nail mark of Belessunu.

(U.E.)Aramaic epigraph : Written document of the wife of [PN]

We can wonder why Šum-iddin, son of Zabudu, the first creditor, didn’t take the dates back by himself and why is his wife who did that. Anyway, it seems that Šum-iddin, son of Zabudu, his wife Belessunu and Šum-iddin, son of Ṣilli-Ninurta, belong to the same farm. Text BE 9, 58 allows us to deepen the relations between these three people. Some days laters, Belessunu and Šum-iddin, son of Ṣilli-Ninurta borrow barley from Enlil-šum-iddin. It’s a short-term debt without interest :

Text n°4: BE 9, 58

(1-5)1 800 litres of barley belonging to Enlil-šum-iddin, fils de Murašû, is the debt of  Šum-iddin, son of Ṣilli-Ninurta, and fBelessunu, wife of Šum-iddin, son of Zabudu, daugther of Ah-ereš. (5-9)In aiāru (ii) of the 38th year, they will give the 1 800 litres of barley, in the taru-measure of Enlil-šum-iddin, in Nippur, at the door of the silo. (9-11)They shall each bear responsibility for one another for payment that the closest will pay.

(12-18)(Witnesses and scribe).

(19-20)Nippur, the 22th addaru (xii), 37th year of Artaxerxes (I.), King of the Lands (= 427 B.C.).

(L.E.)Nail marks of Šum-iddin and fBelessunu.

                  We notice that once again Shum-iddin, son of Zabudu, didn’t act in this contract. Belessunu and the son of Silli-Ninurta share the responsibility for the repayment of the barley during the next harvest. Because of this close relation between Belessunu and the son of Silli-Ninurta we suppose that they have a closed links, family or neighborhood link. So, we can see a horizontal solidarity between this woman and man. At the end of the Babylonian year, this group seems to be in a bad economic situation : they have to get back a first debt of dates and they have to borrow barley from the Murashûs’ sons.

Three contracts show women who are involved in promissory notes of silver with her sons. Text IMT 93 deals with a big quantity of silver, the silver is share between four groups of people. The last group consists of two sons and her mother. The fathers of the sons are not mentioned. We notice too that it’s a loan without interest. The contract drafted at the end of the Babylonian year doesn’t mention the reasons of this loan :

Text n°5: IMT 93

(1-6)452 shekels ½ of refined silver belonging to Enlil-šum-iddin, son of Murašu, are the debt of Hašdaia, son of [PN], Lugalmarda-ibni, son of Belšunu, Bisde, son of Enlil-ittannu, Hašdaia, son of Bel-eṭir, Hašdaia and Abdida’, sons of Nidintu, and fNanaia-ta-hu-šà, their mother. (6-8)The 452 shekels ½ of silver were given the 13th day of intercalary-addaru (xii2) of the 40th year of d’Artaxerxes (I.). (8-9)They shall each bear responsibility for one another for payment of the 452 shekels ½ of silver.

(10)Out of it, 167 shekels of silver are the debt of Hašdaia,

(11)out of it, 127 shekels of silver are the debt of Bisde,

(12)out of it, 6 shekels of silver are the debt of Hašdaia,

(13)and 91 shekels ½ of silver are the debt of Hašdaia and Abdida’, sons of Nidintu, and fNanaia-ta-hu-šà, their mother.

(16-19)(Witnesses and scribe).

(19-20)Nippur, 13th day of intercalary-Addaru (xii2), 40th year of Artaxerxes (I.), King of the Lands (= 424 B.C.).

(Le.E)Cylinder seal of Arad-Enlil. (U.E.)Cylinder seal of Eriba-Enlil.

                  In the Murashû archive, some people need silver when they have to pay their annual taxes. So, maybe, this family group had to borrow silver to pay the taxes for the royal administration ? And we can wonder what was the profit fort he Murashûs’s sons to rent silver without interests ? We’ll give a hypothesis about this question later.

                  Texts BE 10, 2 and BE 10, 3 are drafted in Nippur at the end of the Darius II’s accession year. These promissory notes of silver show a situation completely different than the situation describes by the text IMT 93 (we shall try later to explain the causes of these differences) :

 Text n°6a: BE 10,2

(1-4)15 minas and 50 shekels of refined silver belonging to Enlil-šum-iddin, son of Murašu, are the debt of fArditu, daughter of Baniya. (4-5)As long as the 15 minas and 50 shekels of silver will be at her disposal, each month two shekel of silver per mina will accrue against her. (6-7)From the 15th day of šabāṭu (xi) of the accession year of the king Darius II., the silver is at her disposal. (8)[Her house] is the security at the disposal of Enlil-šum-iddin. (8-10)No other creditor shall have right of disposal over it until Enlil-šum-iddin obtains satisfaction of his claim. (10)The silver (was) the debt of Šum-iddin, her son.

(11-17)(Witnesses and scribe).

(17-19)Nippur, the 15th day of Šabaṭu (xi), accession year of Darius II., King of the Lands (= 423 B.C.).

(U.E.)Nail mark of fArditu. (L.E.)Cylinder seal of Enlil-šum-iddin.

Text n°6b: BE 10, 3

(1-3)[15 minas and 40 shekels of refined silver belonging to Enlil-šum-iddin], [son of Mura]šu, [are the debt of] fNidintu, daughter of Ibaia. (3-5)As long as the 15 minas and 40 shekels of silver will be at her disposal, each month two shekel of silver per mina will accrue against her. (6-7)From the 15th day of šabāṭu (xi) of the accession year of the king Darius II, the silver is at her disposal. (8)[Her house] is the security at the disposal of Enlil-šum-iddin. (8-10)No other creditor shall have right of disposal over it until Enlil-šum-iddin obtains satisfaction of his claim. (10-11)The silver (was) the debt of [PN], her son.

(12-18)(Witnesses and scribe).

(18-19)[Nip]pur, the 15th day of Šabaṭu (xi), [accession year of Dari]us II., King of the Lands (= 423 B.C.).

(L.E.)Cylnder seal of Enlil-šum-iddin.

For now, we can see that BE 10, 2 and 3 have many points in common :

                  1) They were drafted the same day in Nippur,

                  2) They evoke an enormous quantity of silver which are very close,

                  3) They involve women as debtor

                  4) Women put their home as security for the debt

                  5) The loans contain an interest

                  6) The women seem to take back a debt that had been contracted in a first time by their son.

In conclusion about these promissory notes of barley and silver, we can notice that:

                  1) The promissory notes are drafted at the end of the Babylonian year, when the stocks of barley are very low or when people have to pay their taxes (> texts BE 9, 58 ; IMT 93 ; BE 10, 2 & BE 10, 3)

                  2) The women involved are never alone, they are in relation with their sons ( texts 5, 6a & 6b) or with their relatives ( IMT 93). But we notice that their husbands are never mentioned. Maybe, the Husband’s absence weakened the family circle of the horizontal solidarity and force the women to request barley and silver to the urban elite.

                  3) Some loans are without interest (BE 9, 58 & IMT 93) and some others are with interest and pledge ( texts BE 10, 2 and BE 10, 3).

The urban elite takes advantages of this situation of need :

                  1) It’s a way for the creditors to control the new harvests when the debtors have to pay back their loan with barley (BE 9, 58).

                  2) It’s a way to take possession of real estates when the debtors put their home or land as security (texts BE 10, 2 & BE 10, 3).

                  3) It’s a way to obtain a dependant workforce when the debtors have to work for the creditors until the pay off their debts. This legal procedure raises numerous problems because this penalty is never mentioned in promissory notes. So, we have to suppose that when a debtor cannot pay back, this penalty is a tacit sanction not written in the contract. About this last point, we can see that the Murashûs’sons have a prison where the debtors work for them. In this case, Women’s solidarity is also visible with the contracts in which they ask for the liberation of their relatives.

Third situation : feminine solidarity with relatives detained in jail

                   In the First Millennium Babylonia, the Murašûs’sons are the rare persons to possess a private jail named bīt kīli. Most of the time, the bīt kīli concerns the temple like Ebabbar in Sippar or Eanna in Uruk. As Guillaume Cardascia said, the bīt kīli is not strictly speaking a prison, but more probably a “working house”. A creditor holds his defaulting debtor in the bit kili until he gets his money back with the work of the debtor. So, more than 10 people are attested in the Murashûs’jail in Nippur. Most of the texts do not specify the reason of the detention. Text IMT 103 speaks about a “harvest arrears” which the debtors have to pay to the Murashûs sons.

                  Text PBS 2/1, 17 records a request of liberation of two detained brothers during the First year of Darius II. : Il-linṭar and Illulata’. Several members of their family including two women presented this request : Mammitu-ṭabat, probably the sister of the detained brothers and Amat-Esi, the wife of Illulata’ :

Text n°7: PBS 2/1, 17

(1-4)Šiṭa’ and fMammitu-ṭabat, children of Bel-eṭir, and fAmat-Esi’, wife of Illulata’, spoke from their own will to Remut-Ninurta, son of Murašu, as follows : (4-7)« Release Illulata’ and Il-linṭar, sons of Nabu-eṭir, our brothers, who are kept in prison by Enlil-šum-iddin. Deliver them in front of us. We are guarantors for them ». (7-9)Then, Remut-Ninurta agreed and delivered Illulata’ and Il-linṭar in front of them. (9-14)If Illulata’ and Il-linṭar run away towards another place, Šiṭa’, fMammitu-ṭabat and fAmat-Esi’ will pay 30 minas of silver to Remut-Ninurta without lawsuit or contestation.

(16-19)(Witnesses and scribe).

 (19-20)Nippur, the 3rd šabaṭu (xi), 1st year of Darius II., King of the Lands (= 423 B.C.).

(L.E.)Cylinder seal of Enlil-šum-iddin, son of Tattannu.

Remark : Bel-eṭir and Nabu-eṭir are maybe the same person, the signs dEN (=Bel) and dNÀ (= Nabu) are very similar, so it might be an error of the modern copyist or an error of the ancient scribe.

                  Once again, in this case, women didn’t act alone but inside their family group. In this text, the family members doesn’t pay the debts instead of the detained brothers, the two brothers will continue to work for the Murashû until their debts are settled but outside the bīt kīli, in their own home. In other cases, women could be detained in the Murashûs’ bīt kīli too.

3. RISK OF SOLIDARITIES : WOMEN DETAINED IN JAIL

                  Some texts mention women detained in the Murashûs’jail. In the first contract, IMT 103, a group of three people are held : two men Nidintu, Gadiy’a and a woman Bazita, the wife of Nabu-nadin The text specifies the reason of their presence in prison: they are still debtor of a part of the harvests to Enlil-shum-iddin. The text doesn’t mention the link between these three people but we can suppose that they belong to the same family :

Text n°8: IMT 103

(1-2)Nabu-ušezib, slave of Enlil-šum-iddin, spoke of his own volition to Remut-Ninurta, son of Murašu, as follows : (2-8)« Release Nidintu-Bel, Gadiy’a and fBazita, the wife of Nabu-nadin, who are kept in prison because a harvest arrears due Enlil-šum-iddin. Deliver them in front of me from the 14th ulūlu (vi) of the 41th year to the 28th ulūlu (vi) of the 41th and I will be guarantor for their moves ». Nabu-ušezib will bring Nidintu-Bel, Gadiy’a and fBazita back and will turn them to Remut-Ninurta. (8-12)If the 28th ulūlu (vi), Nabu-ušezib has not brought Nidintu-Bel, Gadiy’a and fBazita back and turned them over to Remut-Ninurta, Nabu-ušezib will pay to Remut-Ninurta any debt at all that may be in evidence in documents drafted to their debit in favor of Enlil-šum-iddin.

(13-18)(Witnesses and scribe).

(18-19)Nippur, the 14th ulūlu (vi), 41th year of Artaxerxes (I.), King of the Lands (= 424 B.C.).

(R.)Aramaic epigraph : Written document of Nabu-ušezib : he took back three (people) from Arad-Ninurta[1].

 

                  In the second text, TuM 2/3, 203, two women are detained. We notice that they are not quoted by their own names but only as wife of their husband: the wife of Nadir, son of Hašdaia, and the wife of Bel-ibni, son of Nanaia-duri’. Because of this fact, it seems that these anonymous women were not the debtors of the Murašûs’ sons but their husbands were probably the debtors but they sent their wife in the Murashûs’jail instead of them :

 

Text n°9: TuM 2/3, 203

(1-4)Belšunu, son of Mannu-ki-Nanaia, Enlil-suppe-muhur, slave of Remut-Ninurta, Šum-iddin, son of Ina-ṣilli-Ninurta, and Arad-Ninurta, son of Enlil-ittannu, spoke of their own volition to Remut-Ninurta, son of Murašu, as follows : (4-8) « Give to us the wife of Nadir, son of Hašdaia, and the wife of Bel-ibni, son of Nanaia-duri’, who are kept in the town of Enlil-ašabšu-iqbi and we will be guarantors against their flight until the month of dūzu (iv) of the 2nd  year of Darius II ». (8-9)Then, Remut-Ninurta agreed and delivered in a front of them the wife of Nadir and the wife of Bel-ibni. (10-11)In dūzu (iv) of the 2nd year of the king Darius II, they will bring the wife of Nadir and the wife of Bel-ibni back and will turn them over to Remut-Ninurta. (12-15)If, the wife of Nadir and the wife of Bel-ibni run away towards another place, Belšunu, Enlil-suppe-muhur, Šum-iddin and Arad-Ninurta will pay 90 minas of silver to Remut-Ninurta without lawsuit.

(16-22)(Witnesses and scribe).

(22-23)Nippur, the 28th nisannu (i), 2nd year of Darius (II.), King of the Lands (= 422 B.C.).

 (Edges)Cylinder seals.

These texts show two peculiarities:

                  1) The first peculiarity comes from the liberators, indeed, they do not belong to the family of the prisoners, on the contrary, they belong to the Murashûs’ Firm. In the first text, the liberator is Nabu-ushezib, a salve of Enlil-shum-iddin ; and in the second text, we find Enlil-suppe-muhur, slave of Remut-Ninurta, included the liberators.

                  2) The second peculiarity comes from the liberation modalities : The Murashûs’sons give to their slaves the detained people just for a short period of time.

                  So, these texts are not a freedom contract, in fact, We can consider them as a kind of work contract : the Murashûs’sons give to members of their firm the workers whom they hold in prison, maybe because they want to send them to work in another place under the control of their own servants or because they want that they do a specific work outside their bit kili.

4. THE CRISIS OF THE YEARS 424-423 AND FEMININE SOLIDARITIES

A majority of the texts, which illustrate the women’s role inside the family solidarities, is concentrated on a very short period, from 425 to 422 :

 

1. Promissory notes of silver

Nanaia-ta-hu-šà, wife of Nidintu, mother of Hašdaia and Abdida’  Text n°5 (13/xii-b/Art 40)

Arditu, daughter of Baniya, mother of Šum-iddin   Text n°6a (15/xi/Dar II 0)

Nidintu, daugther of Ibaia  Text n°6b (15/xi/Dar II 0)

 

2. Women asking the release of their relatives

Amat-Esi’, wife of Illulata’   Text n°7 (3/xi/Dar II 1)

Mammitu-ṭabat, daughter of Bel-eṭir, sister of Šiṭa’   Text n°7 (3/xi/Dar II 1)

 

3. Women detained in jail

Bazita, wife of Nabu-nadin   Text n°8 (14/vi/Art 41)

The wife of Bel-ibni, son of Nanaia-duri’  Text n°9 (28/i/Dar II 2)

The wife of Nadir, son of Hašdaia   Text n°9 (28/i/Dar II 2)

 

Women in a context of debts from 425 to 422 (Art 40 – Dar II 2)

     

             It’s inside this short period that Mattew Stolper suggests to see an important economic crisis which affected Babylonia and Nippur in particular. In this final part, I would like to study the links between this economic crisis and the women’s solidarities.

                  1) First, M. Stolper remarks that the promissory notes with pledge of real property are extraordinary numerous during the First year of Darius II (424).

Promissory notes with pledges of real property

Tableau Stolper-Donbaz
Donbaz & Stolper 1997 : 10

                  For Stolper, soldiers had to ask silver to the Murashû’s firm to be able to pay the special taxes ordered by the new king. To face this enormous request for silver, Murashûs’sons required exceptional guarantees. This general crisis situation of credit explains why Murashûs’sons required to fArditu and fNidintu interests and pledge security (BE 10, 2 & BE 10, 3) contrary to the credit granted to Nanaia-ta-hu-šà and to her sons some years ago (IMT 93).

                  2) Secondly, it’s during the same period, the end of Artaxerxes I and the beginning of Darius II that we find a majority of text which deals with the Murashûs’ bīt kīli, at this time the prison seems to be full of people (men and women too) :

Texts

« Liberators »

Detained persons

04/ii/Art 38

EE 104

Imbiya, son of Kidin, and Labaši, son of Ahhe-utir Ahhe-utir

Kalkal-iddin, son of Ahhe-utir

14/vi/Art 41

IMT 103

Nabu-ušezib, slave of Enlil-šum-iddin

Nidintu-Bel, Gadiya and fBazita, wife of Nabu-nadin

16/i/Darius II 01

BE 10, 10

Il-linṭar, son of Iddin-Enlil

Iddin-Enlil, son of Ah-iddin

11/viii/Darius II 01   

PBS 2/1, 21

Zimmaia, son of Bel-eṭir

Ah-iddin, son of Zuza

02/ix/Darius II 01                            

PBS 2/1, 23

Bel-ittannu, son of Bel-bullissu, Šum-iddin, son of Ubar and Arad-Gula, son of Ninurta-iddin

Ninurta-uballiṭ, son of Enlil-iqiša

03/xi/Darius II 01

PBS 2/1, 17

Šiṭa’ and fMammitu-ṭabat, children of Bel-eṭir,  fAmat-Esi’, wife of Illulata’

Ilulata’ and Il-linṭar, son of Nabu-eṭir

28/i/Darius II 02

TuM 2/3, 203

Belšunu, son of Mannu-ki-Nanaia, Enlil-suppe-muhur, slave of Remut-Ninurta, Šum-iddin, son of Ina-ṣilli-Ninurta, and Arad-Ninurta, son of Enlil-ittannu

The wife of Nadir, son of Hašdaia, and  the wife of Bel-ibni, son of Nanaia-duri’

                  So the women’s solidarities role to find credit and to request the freedom of their relatives takes place in a short period of economic crisis where a lot of people needed silver and credit. But as Van Driel remarked, the people including women didn’t pay back the Murashûs’ sons, indeed, we found these promissory notes inside the Murashû Archive, this fact means that the members of the firm didn’t give the contracts back to the debtors because the debtors didn’t settle their debts. It’s very interesting because in the same time, we can see that the Murashûs’ sons cancel the promissory notes of silver and they accepted to release people from their prison. We can wonder where this kindness comes from ? The new king’s wish ? Or the Murashûs’sons own decision ?

***

                  The economic and social situation of the Nippur Region during the Fifth century and especially during the transition between Artaxerxes I and Darius II is very complicated, but it is thanks to this crisis that we can see in this man’s world the women go out and play a major role in their family group to face the crisis.


[1] For the reading of the epigraph, cf. Jursa 1999.

La place des femmes dans l’économie domestique néo-babylonienne

La place des femmes dans l’économie domestique 

à l’époque néo-babylonienne

Francis JOANNÈS (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne — UMR 7041-ArScAn (CNRS))

Évaluer la place des femmes, du point de vue économique, dans le cadre de la maison privée à l’époque néo-babylonienne, revient à essayer de reconstituer les mécanismes qui gouvernent la société néo-babylonienne. Le sujet de la condition féminine à cette époque a déjà été abordé, mais la situation économique des femmes doit être appréciée en fonction d’autres critères et de réponses à d’autres questions que celles posées habituellement: on part évidemment des contrats mettant en scène des femmes pour apprécier leur situation. Mais on est assez vite cantonné alors à la reconstitution des dots, de leur utilisation (prêts, achats d’esclaves), de leur transmission, et des droits des femmes sur les patrimoines familiaux et de la manière dont elles servent de vecteur à sa transmission.

Historiographiquement, cela a été traité en grande partie pour le Ier millénaire par M. Roth, partiellement par K. Abraham, H. Baker, C. Waerzeggers et C. Wunsch, et par les deux ouvrages généraux de B. Lesko et de E. Specht[1]. Le reste est fondu dans des synthèses plus générales comme celle de M. Dandamaiev sur les esclaves.

On ne doit, évidemment, pas faire dire aux sources plus qu’elles ne nous fournissent, et l’on est ici typiquement dans un cas d’approche «oblique», dans la mesure où ce qui nous intéresse (la part que prennent les femmes à l’activité économique domestique) n’est pas documentée en tant que telle. On sait à peu près quel est le régime juridique qui gouverne les transferts de biens au moment des mariages, des successions, des donations. Mais les activités propres aux femmes et, surtout, la manière dont elles les contrôlent, n’avaient pas de raison particulière de donner lieu à un enregistrement écrit dans le cadre de l’économie domestique privée. Archéologiquement, il est également très difficile de repérer ou d’identifier des zones «féminines» d’activité. Il faut donc regrouper les maigres indices disponibles pour cette époque, en fonction de questions qui leur donnent le sens voulu. Ces questions sont, fondamentalement au nombre de deux:

1) quelles activités mènent les femmes dans la maison, ou, sous une autre forme, quelle est leur part dans l’ οἰκονομία « l’administration du foyer »?

2) de quelle autonomie disposent les femmes dans la gestion des ressources de la maisonnée? Cette autonomie s’exerce par rapport au mari, mais aussi par rapport à la belle-famille, et enfin par rapport à la société locale. On ne trouve d’ailleurs que de très rares exemples assurée de femmes exerçant des responsabilités abandonnées par leur époux pour cause de maladie[2].

3) existe-t-il des femmes qui assurent en totalité la direction de leur maison? et jusqu’à quel degré d’indépendance vis à vis de la société contemporaine peuvent-elles aller?

Il est certain que c’est bien la «maison» est l’endroit privilégié où s’exerce l’activité féminine et qu’il est rare, dans la vie courante des familles urbaines, que les femmes sortent isolées à l’extérieur; même si certaines activités comme l’acquisition de l’eau ou la fréquentation des lieux de commerce de détail impliquait que des femmes sortent de la maison, c’était très probablement en groupe. Car la rue n’est pas sans danger pour une femme isolée: un texte atypique mais révélateur rapporte un incident survenu en pleine rue de Babylone sous le règne de Nabonide: deux témoins certifient sous serment :

«(qu’ils ont vu) le 14 Nisan (de l’an 11), un individu retenir de force une femme et la contraindre à entrer dans une maison située dans la ruelle du fils de Zannā, à côté de la maison de Nabû-uballiṭ fils de Bēl-šar-uṣur, qu’ils ont entendu les cris de protestation de la femme et de la jeune esclave qui l’accompagnait, et que c’est bien de force qu’elle a été emmenée dans cette maison»[3].

 

1. Femmes et production

Le cas de Tappašar

On peut partir du dossier très éclairant rassemblé par H. Baker dans Nappāḫū, p. 000, à propos des textes n°35-40. Il s’agissait de régler les relations entre Iddin-Nabû et la veuve de son père adoptif, Tappašar, épouse de Gimillu. D’après la reconstitution plausible qu’en propose H. Baker, Gimillu aurait été très diminué physiquement peu de temps avant sa mort, ce qui aurait conduit Iddin-Nabû à assurer la conduite de ses affaires financières et immobilières, et à utiliser, pour lui-même et pour le couple Gimillu-Tappašar, une maison prise en gage d’un prêt d’argent comme lieu d’habitation. Après la mort de Gimillu, un premier règlement financier intervint entre Iddin-Nabû et Tappašar aux termes duquel ils se retrouvèrent habiter toujours la même maison, mais chacun dans une aile différente. Dans ce cadre, Tappašar prêta un serment qui stipulait qu’elle ne prenait pour son usage personnel qu’un certain nombre d’objets et de meubles de la maisonnée (texte n°33). Un second document (n°34 = VS 6 246) énumérait ce qui est sans doute la totalité du mobilier de la maison: il constitue ainsi une sorte d’inventaire après décès et il est particulièrement intéressant puisqu’il s’agit de l’un des rares cas où c’est l’ensemble de ce mobilier et des objets de la vie courante qui est ainsi inventorié[4].

Or, en comparant les deux listes: celle des meubles laissés à la disposition de Tappašar et l’inventaire général, on constate que la veuve ne garde pour elle que du mobilier dont elle a un usage personnel, à l’exclusion de tout ce qui peut servir à la préparation de la nourriture, si ce n’est une marmite. La conclusion la plus logique est qu’elle n’était pas en mesure de s’occuper de cette préparation, et que c’est probablement une ou des servantes d’Iddin-Nabû[5] qui assuraient l’artisanat alimentaire de l’ensemble de la maison.

 

Tableau récapitulatif des objets et meubles disponibles dans la maison de Gimillu

(en gras, les meubles gardés par Tappašar):

 

akkadien

français

matériau

quantité

eršu ša musukkannu lit bois 1
šupal šēpe escabeau bois 1
eršu ša giškìm lit bois 1
arannu ša giškìm coffre bois 1
mušāḫḫinu ša 0,0.3 (= 18 litres) marmite bronze 1
mušāḫḫinu ša talammu (= entre 6 et 10 litres ?) marmite bronze 1
kasu coupe à boire bronze 2
mukarrīšu huilier bronze 1
baṭû plateau bronze 1
dug ha-aṣ!-ba-tu …… cruche (à bière) argile 20
Namzītu vase à fermentation argile 2
kankannu support bois 2
ḫuttu jarre argile 2
namḫāru sorte de cratère argile 2
na4-har + na4 narkabu meule complète pierre 1
kussu chaise bois 2
littu tabouret bois 2
šāšitu (3 kg!) lanterne fer 1

 

On trouve ainsi un ensemble cohérent énuméré pour la préparation et la consommation des nourritures à base de céréales, de viande et de légumes (meule, marmite(s), huilier, écuelle) et de boisson alcoolisée (vase à fermentation, cratère, cruche, coupe à boire). On remarque aussi que la préparation de la nourriture de la maison est très probablement prise en charge de manière collective, par une ou plusieurs personnes.

Encore à l’époque séleucide[6], la donation faite par un mari à son épouse reprend les biens et les éléments de mobilier dont elle a besoin pour vivre (YOS 20 n°20, ll. 10-12), mais, à l’inverse du cas précédent, lui laisse la disposition de trois objets indispensables pour la préparation de la nourriture:

giš-šub-ba é du-ú-du zabar mu-kar-riš zabar u na4-har-har mu-meš  «la prébende, la maison, la marmite-dūdu de bronze[7], l’huilier-mukarrišu de bronze et les (deux) meules (…)»

a) Le mode collectif de fonctionnement

C’est sans doute sur cet aspect collectif de la production domestique qu’il faut mettre l’accent. Dans le rassemblement et l’analyse des données textuelles qui documentent la famille en Babylonie, on privilégie en général sa forme nucléaire, en considérant que l’unité de base de la maison est constituée du mari, de sa femme, et de leurs enfants. Il faut clairement élargir et modifier cette base, en considérant qu’il y a souvent une ou plusieurs domestiques féminines de statut servile qui travaillent sous les ordres de la «maîtresse de maison», et que même dans les familles non urbaines, ou relevant de catégories sociales qui ne sont pas en mesure de disposer d’esclave(s), la maison réunit dans un fonctionnement commun plusieurs familles nucléaires, associant des relations verticales (grands-parents/parents/enfants) ou horizontales (frères et soeurs).

La «transition domestique»

Cette hypothèse d’un mode de fonctionnement fondamentalement collectif à l’intérieur de la maison trouve confirmation, me semble-t-il, dans les données que fournissent les contrats de mariage où sont énumérées des dots. Si l’on suit l’analyse éclairante de M. Roth 1989/1990, on note que les jeunes épouses peuvent être accompagnées dans les familles aisées d’une ou plusieurs domestiques féminines, qui leur sont souvent fournies spécifiquement par un membre féminin de leur famille d’origine: mère, grands-mères maternelle et paternelle, tante. Selon M. Roth, il s’agit là de faciliter la «transition domestique» en permettant à la jeune épouse de garder un lien avec son environnement humain d’origine, et de ne pas être «aspirée» par une structure familiale nouvelle dans laquelle sa belle-mère et/ou ses belles-soeurs sont en position de force. Il s’agit aussi, clairement, de constituer une force de travail en mesure de répondre aux besoins de la maison, sans que tout repose sur la seule épouse. Il faut d’ailleurs imaginer certainement toute une série de situations mixtes, depuis l’épouse accompagnée d’une seule servante jusqu’au groupe féminin (dans les formes les plus collectives d’habitation) constitué des épouses des divers membres masculins de la famille, de leurs soeurs, des servantes de chacune, le tout étant placé sous l’autorité et la gestion de la mère de famille.

De fait, la société urbaine traditionnelle fonctionne par cercles concentriques allant de la famille proche jusqu’aux affidés et au voisinage, selon une organisation dont on retrouve de très nombreux exemples dans les sociétés méditerranéennes traditionnelles[8]. On comprend mieux dès lors comment un bien immobilier peut être l’objet de revendications émanant de la communauté familiale au sens large désignée par les termes de kimtu, nešūtu, sallatu[9].

La composition de la dot

Le second point à noter est que ne figurent dans les dots, en général, que ce qui peut intéresser le mari ou la belle-famille. Ces dots, comme le montre M. Roth, se répartissent clairement en trois postes:

a) des éléments de patrimoine: terre agricole, maison, esclaves

b) des biens de prestige: vêtements de luxe, bijoux et métal précieux, mobilier

c) certains objets de la vie domestique

mais certains biens ont une fonction intermédiaire: ainsi, les esclaves domestiques sont à la fois un élément de patrimoine et un auxiliaire de la vie dans la maison; comme le note M. Roth[10] le mari peut convertir un esclave en argent, ou, plus souvent, de l’argent en esclave; elle note ailleurs[11], que les donations supplémentaires d’esclaves faites à l’épouse par sa mère, sa grand-mère maternelle, par sa tante paternelle, par sa grand-mère paternelle consistent toujours en une esclave féminine[12]; le métal précieux est à la fois un bien de prestige et un élément de patrimoine; et, naturellement, certains biens de prestige ont aussi une utilisation dans la vie quotidienne (meubles en bois semi-précieux).

Mais, à l’exception de «l’inventaire après décès» signalé plus haut, les inventaires de mobilier des dots ne sont pas à prendre comme des reflets exacts de l’ensemble des biens mobiliers présents dans la maison. Pour les meubles, on notera le fait qu’en dehors des meubles ne bois semi-précieux, figurait certainement du mobilier en bois de palmier ou en roseaux, qui n’est jamais cité; de même que ne figurent pas les nattes, coffres, couffins, paniers qui sont pourtant bien présents dans l’environnement de la Mésopotamie contemporaine[13].

Les contrats d’apprentissage

Un autre ensemble de renseignements est fourni par les contrats d’apprentissage que l’on trouve dans la documentation néo-babylonienne, et qui concernent souvent (mais pas exclusivement) des esclaves. La dernière mise au point à ce sujet est celle de J. Hakl dans Jursa 2005, p. 700sq. Hackl répertorie 34 contrats d’apprentissage entre le règne de Kandalānu et la période séleucide. Par rapport à la répartition qu’il fournit[14], on peut présenter la liste selon un autre principe de tri, en distinguant entre:

– les métiers relevant de l’artisanat spécialisé (barbier, joaillier, maître-maçon, menuisier-ébéniste, orfèvre, potier, tanneur, vannier et tresseur de nattes), soit 11 occurrences

– les métiers relevant de l’artisanat de l’alimentation (cuisinier/boulanger et producteur de farine): 8 occurrences

– les métiers relevant de l’artisanat des textiles (blanchisseur, fabricant d’habits lamḫuššu, tisseur, tisseur d’étoffes multicolores, tresseur de sacs): 7 occurrences

– métiers hors artisanat (chasseur de rats, acteur/danseur, chantre): 3 occurrences

– métier non spécifié (ou cassé): 5 occurrences

 Hors cette dernière sous-catégorie, on constate que les métiers liés à la préparation de la nourriture et des textiles représentent un peu plus de la moitié, dont 7 cuisiniers/boulangers, deux tisserands et deux blanchisseurs. Dans tous les cas, les apprentis sont des hommes, et 6 des 7 apprentis cuisiniers sont des esclaves, alors que dans le domaine textile les apprentis sont plutôt de statut libre.

On peut donc se demander s’il s’agit d’esclaves à qui l’on apprend un métier destiné à leur faire tenir boutique de manière autonome, ou s’il ne s’agit-il pas plutôt de l’optimisation de l’organisation économique interne d’une «grande maison» urbaine? Il semble qu’à partir d’un certain niveau social, la «maîtresse de maison» se libère de tâches qu’elle accomplissait directement ou en collaboration, ou qu’elle dirigeait, et qu’elle les confie à un technicien spécialisé. Si les aspects techniques, voire marchands l’emportent sans doute pour le traitement des étoffes, on peut se demander si l’emploi d’un cuisinier spécialisé n’est pas aussi une question de prestige, mais il faut avouer que la documentation est peu explicite sur ce point. On remarque surtout que s’il y a spécialisation technique, elle entraîne le recours à un homme. Il n’est pas exclu d’autre part que certains de ces spécialistes (en particulier pour les cuisiniers/boulangers) tiennent aussi une boutique accolée à, ou insérée dans, la structure de la demeure à laquelle ils sont attachés[15]

Cette forme de sous-traitance ne se rencontre, à ce degré de spécialisation, que dans les familles de la société urbaine supérieure et l’on peut estimer qu’à ce moment la maîtresse de maison accède à des activités autres. La question, qui sera à voir ensuite est de savoir si cela lui confère une autonomie personnelle accrue. Mais il est évident que nous n’avons que très peu de renseignements sur les activités de loisir ou de sociabilité[16].

On notera également les remarques pertinentes de C. Waerzeggers, à propos des activités de blanchissage:

 «It is generally assumed that families of means owned a small number of domestic slaves who worked in the household as nannies, kitchen maids, servants, cooks, house-keepers etc. We would be inclined to add ‘washermen, or -women’ to this list.»[17]

 Pour récapituler, et d’après les artisanats représentées, ainsi que par les listes de dot, on voit apparaître deux secteurs majeurs dans lesquels s’exerce l’activité domestique féminine: la préparation de la nourriture et la confection des étoffes d’habillement. Mais — et ce point est particulièrement important à souligner — ces activités ne sont pas individualisées, elles impliquent un travail en groupe ainsi qu’un mode d’occupation collective de certains espaces de la maison. S’il y a autonomie féminine dans l’exercice de ce travail, c’est une autonomie collective et cela n’empêche pas l’existence d’une hiérarchie interne qui pouvait être très marquée entre les différentes femmes de la maison.

 

b) les productions courantes

Les deux secteurs identifiables sont l’alimentation et l’habillement. On les présentera ici à la suite. Le premier est lié à une certaine forme d’occupation de l’espace domestique, en particulier les endroits où l’on peut procéder à la cuisson: P. Miglus enregistre ainsi[18] trois sortes de dispositifs, présents soit dans la cour intérieure, soit dans une pièce attenante: four, tannour, et foyer à même le sol. Le second est plus difficile à localiser, mais il n’est pas impossible que certaines des pièces que P. Miglus qualifie de «Gegenzimmer», des grands espaces ouvrant directement sur la cour par une ou plusieurs ouvertures aient été réservées à ce genre d’activité[19].

Le cadre même des activités économiques des femmes néo-babyloniennes, la maison, n’est d’ailleurs pas un espace figé. Comme le remarque C. Castel (Castel 1992, p. 98):

 «Il est très vraisemblable finalement que le «temps de la vie quotidienne et la successiond es situations selon les heures de la journée, (aient) modelé les lieux de la maison (néo-assyrienne et néo-babylonienne), les affectant de fonctions successives, au gré des circonstances, tandis que la destination de certaines pièces rest(ait) constante», selon le même principe que celui que l’on retrouve dan certaines maisons contemporaines. Les déplacements quotidiens ou la fixation temporaire d’une activité en un lieu précis de l’habitation pourrait s’expliquer notamment par la chaleur, le froid, l’ombre, la lumière. (…) La maison paraît avoir été vécue comme un ensemble organique multifonctionnel.»

 Production alimentaire

Comme le montrent en général les objets cités dans les listes de dot, il s’agit d’abord de la préparation du pain et de celle de l’alcool de dattes fermentées[20]; il est intéressant de noter cette spécialisation de la préparation de la bière de dattes comme une activité féminine, que confirment les textes en rapport avec les cabarets. Les femmes qui les tiennent ont en effet aussi à préparer la bière de dattes. La lettre YOS 21 151 de Šum-ukīn à Ea-ušallim montre cependant que la préparation de la bière de qualité supérieure, à base d’orge, est une activité plutôt masculine[21]

L’autre activité, plus attendue, est celle qui consiste à moudre et à préparer la nourriture, dont la base est formée par les céréales. Curieusement, alors que les mentions de meules existent dans les textes de dot paléo-babyloniens, on ne les trouve que très rarement au Ier millénaire. Il n’y a pas de changement technologique, mais sans doute plutôt une transformation du marché qui fait que les pierres à meule sont d’un accès plus commun. On en a d’autre part retrouvé suffisamment en fouille pour que leur présence comme élément de base des activités domestiques soit assurée[22].

 On remarque d’autre part que cette spécialisation féminine ne vaut que pour la sphère privée. On sait que la part des femmes dans le processus de production artisanale des temples néo-babyloniens était restreinte[23]. L’étude récente de C. Waerzeggers le confirme, à propos des gens chargés de moudre le grain destiné à préparation des offrandes alimentaires[24]:

 «(…) we find slaves, free persons from little known families, as well as members from the established baker clans in the milling houses. Despite theses liberal rulesnof access, women played no part whatsoever in thesesa ctivities, indicating that gender restrictions on temple access were severe».

 Pour préparer les galettes de pain cuites au four, on a recours le plus souvent à un dispositif de four (tinūru) de type tanour, identifié dans les espaces à ciel ouvert de plusieurs maisons d’époque néo-babylonienne[25]; on s’en sert également pour les préparations bouillies mijotées dans les marmites de bronze et dans des récipients en argile (que les textes ne citent pas). On utilise aussi le gril sous diverses forme (kišukku, naṭilu), placé sur le four. La mention du réchaud (kinūnu) servant à la fois de radiateur et de four portatif n’est pas attesté dans ce type de documentation à l’époque néo-babylonienne. Le travail des femmes est donc de moudre ou de concasser les céréales, puis de les transformer en diverses préparations et de les faire cuire, avec, éventuellement un accompagnement de viande et de légumes bouillis ou grillés. Pour la bière, il s’agit de préparer le mélange à base de dattes destiné à fermenter puis de le filtrer et de stocker le contenu dans des jarres prêtes à la consommation. Une partie de cette bière peut être commercialisée.

Tout cela est documenté par la littérature épistolaire contemporaine:

 CT 22 n°40 (lettre d’Ardi-Bēl à son épouse Epirtu)

ll. 6-10 ……lìb-bu-ú-a il-ṣi ki-i te-re-’e en-na dìb-bi x x [ o o o ] kaš bi-šu-’u-a 1 ma-na kù-babbar bi in-ni-i «…mon coeur s’est réjoui de te savoir enceinte. Maintenant, l’affaire [………], ma bière de mauvaise qualité, vends-la, s’il te plaît, pour 1 mine d’argent»

Jursa 2010 p. 223 évoque un couple d’esclaves des Egibi, Nabû-utēr et Mīṣatu, qui brassent et vendent de la bière et produisent un bénéfice de plusieurs dizaines de sicles d’argent en une année, reversés à leur propriétaire:

 Nbn 815, ll. 15-21

«2 mines 15 sicles d’argent comptabilisés depuis le mois d’Ulūlu de l’an 13 (de Nabonide), (plus) 16 sicles d’argent précédent, argent qui s’ajoute lui-même aux 1/3 de mine 4 sicles d’argent précédents de Nabû-utēr et sa femme Mīṣatu; 50 jarres de bière de bonne qualité de l’an 13. Total: 2 mines 55(!) sicles 1/2 d’argent et 50 jarres de bière de bonne qualité, se trouvent chez Nabû-utēr, sans compter les jarres vides et le mobilier.

Si les femmes ont en général la mainmise sur ces préparations culinaires, comment ont-elles accès aux produits alimentaires bruts? [26] Les lettres néo-babyloniennes montrent que certaines femmes reçoivent ou donnent des instructions pour recueillir et redistribuer le produit des récoltes agricoles ou de la viande:

 NBB 149 recueille les instructions fournies à une femme nommée Belit sur la répartition à opérer de la récolte des dattes et de l’orge de la maisonnée

 NBB 151 est une lettre à une femme mentionnant une livraison d’orge:

Lettre de Nabû-zēr-ušabši[27] à Šikkū, mon épouse. Puissent Bēl et Nabû prononcer le bien-être physique et moral de mon épouse! Ça va bien pour moi, et ça va bien pour Bēl-iddin. Vois: j’ai écrit à Iddin-Marduk, fils d’Iqīšaia: il va te donner 10 gur d’orge. Ne néglige rien de ce qui concerne la maison! Je suis abattu: prie les dieux en ma faveur! Et qu’une nouvelle de toi m’arrive rapidement par n’importe quel messager!

 Waerzeggers 2001 n°18 cite la création d’une société commerciale à base d’argent et de jarres vides pour fabriquer et commercialiser de la bière de dattes, dont les revenus servent à nourrir la famille et le personnel de la maison de Bēl-iddin:

 ll. 14-15 (…) l’épouse de Bêl-iddin et ses filles tireront leur nourriture de l’association commerciale; les domestiques de la maison de Bêl-iddin travailleront au service de l’association commerciale et tireront leur nourriture de l’association commerciale

dam Iden-mu u dumu-mí-šú-meš ninda-há ina kaskalII ik-ka-lu!(RI) lú un-meš é šá Iden-mu na-áš-par-tu4 šá kaskalIIšú-nu il-la-ku ninda-há ina kaskalII ik-ka-lu!(RI)

 Les renseignements que l’on peut tirer des textes à ce sujet, restent dans l’ensemble assez maigres et la question des espaces de stockage et de leur gestion dans le cadre domestique doit faire l’objet d’études complémentaires. De la même manière l’accès à l’eau n’est pratiquement pas documenté: qui puise l’eau? à quel endroit? est-ce une activité réservée à certaines personnes de la maisonnée?[28] De fait, seule l’archéologie nous permet d’identifier des jarres sur support qui devaient servir aux besoins journaliers de la maison en eau: pour la boisson, mais aussi les préparations culinaires et pour les ablutions. Par ailleurs, comme le remarque C. Castel[29]: «L’absence totale de citerne, la rareté des adductions d’eau et des puits conduit à penser, dans la plupart des cas, que le ravitaillement en eau se faisait “à la main”, au cours d’eau le plus proche, ce qui ne laisse pas d’étonner quand on songe au raffinement de certains aménagements.»

 

Production d’étoffes

Le second artisanat est lié au textile, et implique toute une série d’opérations allant de la préparation de la laine puis du filage jusqu’au tissage. Pourtant presque aucune mention n’existe des instruments utilisés pour cette activité: quenouille, métier, pesons ne sont pas cités[30], alors même qu’on parle à plusieurs reprises de la production textile de la maisonnée:

 La lettre NBB 226, entre deux femmes, concerne de la laine (à traiter?):

Lettre de Qutnānu à Inṣabtu, ma soeur. Puissent Bēl et Nabû décréter santé et bien-être de ma soeur! Vois: je t’ai envoyé mon garant avec 4 mines de laine. Tu la mesureras et [… reste cassé…]

La production la plus courante, susceptible d’être distribuée ou vendue en dehors de la maison est celle du sari’am, qui est clairement un vêtement de dessus que l’on porte à l’extérieur, et qui peut vraisemblablement être ouvert (type kaftan) ou fermé (type djellaba ou dichdacha), et de la karballatu[31] . Les données rassemblées dans Jursa 2010 montrent que des sociétés commerciales privées écoulent ainsi de la production textile d’origine familiale. Dans ce cas, l’activité économique des femmes de la maisonnée dépasse les simples besoins familiaux et touchent à la sphère de l’économie commerciale.

 On note ainsi dans Jursa 2010, p. 221:

«In NBC 6189 from the Ṣāhit-ginê B archive, one reads of a female worker’s spinning duties which are supervised by the wife of one of the archive’s chief protagonists, Ninurta-ahu-uṣur. This must refer to work for the family’s trading business which was done by women weaving and spinning from their home. Since the temple archives also refer to women weaving and spinning in their homes, one can assume that this was a typical arrangement rather than an exceptionnal one.»

 L’on trouve aussi des habits-gulēnu[32], dont les veuves prises en charge par le temple de Šamaš à Sippar doivent tisser trois exemplaires par an, selon le texte Dar. 43[33], ll. 2′-8′:

 (…) au 1er du mois de Tašrītu de l’an 2, à l’exclusion des 19 membres d’équipe, [ils ont été remis(?)] à Šamaš-iddin; aucune des femmes [= les veuves] n’aura le droit de résider auprès d’un mār banî, ni de donner fils ou fille en adoption à un mār banî. Parmi elles, Idintu, Mistaia et Bazītu devront donner chaque année 3 habits-gulēnu, en tâche assignée (iškaru) à Šamaš, réalisée par leurs propres soins; elles n’auront pas le droit de s’installer dans une autre ville (…)

Les vêtements mentionnés dans les dots sont soit des vêtements de la vie courante (en quantités qui peuvent être importantes: jusqu’à 20), soit des vêtements de luxe. Le texte TBER n°00, cite pourtant un túg kirku ša ina bīti maḫṣu «un rouleau d’étoffe qui a été tissé à la maison»

Les fibres autres que la laine sont très peu documentées en contexte privé: il est cependant possible qu’un filage et un tissage du lin ait existé[34], mais il reste impossible de savoir si cette activité artisanale à domicile servait uniquement aux besoins privés ou fonctionnait également pour les sanctuaires.

De même le traitement et la conservation des habits n’ont laissé que peu de traces dans la documentation écrite[35]. Une reconnaissance de dette des archives des Egibi (Nbn 340) prévoit qu’en échange d’un prêt de 30 sicles d’argent pour un mois, le débiteur met à la disposition de Nabû-aḫḫē-iddin sa servante Šalmu-dīninni, blanchisseuse (pu-ṣa-’i-i-tu4); le contrat ne prévoit pas de versement d’intérêt; le travail de la blanchisseuse est donc estimé valoir 1/2 sicle d’argent par mois, soit 6 sicles par an.

Enfin, si l’on considère que ce qui constitue les rations d’entretien courantes (epru, piššatu, lubuštu) relève des bases de l’artisanat domestique, et passe donc par les mains féminines, on pourrait supposer que la fabrication de l’huile relève aussi de leur compétence: l’huile de sésame est extraite (bouillie et non pressée) pour un usage de toilette, soit en application directe[36], soit pour fabriquer une sorte de savon;il suffisait de mélanger l’huile à de l’argile et à la cendre de plantes à soude (salicorne et soda) qui poussent facilement sur les terres salées[37] .

 

Tableau des fonctions artisanales féminines attestées (contexte privé et professionnel)

 

FONCTION MÉTIER MASCULIN MÉTIER FÉMININ
tisserand išparu oui oui (išpartu)
blanchisseur puṣayu oui oui (pūṣa’ītu)
foulon ašlāku oui non
cuisinier nuḫatimmu oui non (seulement Mari)
parfumeur muraqqu oui oui (muraqqītu dans le palais de Babylone)
brasseur sirāšu oui non (pas après Nuzi, sirāšītu)
cabaretier/marchand de bière sābû oui oui sābītum (mais pas domestique)
boucher ṭābiḫu oui non
meunier ṭē’inu oui oui (ṭē’intu/ṭē’ittu ou ararratu mais pas attesté en tant que tel !) mí-meš ša qēme i-ṭe4-en-na-a’ Bongenaar Ebabbar p. 113
presseur d’huile ṣāḫitu oui non (1 attestation nA ṣaḫittu)
jardinier/arboriculteur nukarribu oui non (1 attestation OB nukarribatu)
médecin asū oui non (1 attestation OB mí a-zu)
gardien de volaille usandu oui non
vannier atkuppu oui non
faiseur de nattes paqqu oui non
musicien/chanteur naru oui non (nartu)
sage-femme oui (šabsūtu: NBC 4787 cf. Jursa 2005 p. 632 et note 3346)

Existe-t-il des métiers féminins spécialisés ?

Jursa 2010 p. 727-728 considère qu’un grand nombre de productions sont externalisées et monétisées à l’époque néo-babylonienne, y compris pour des produits de la vie courante. Il y a une forte spécialisation du travail qui pemret à des artisans de vivre de leur production, et qui fonctionne selon un système de «reciprocal exchange». Cette argumentation tire parti du dossier des blanchissaeurs professionnels étudié par C. Waerzeggers[38]

Il reste cependant nombre de tâches remplies par les femmes dans le cadre familial. Mais plus on sort du cadre urbain, plus la documentation devient mince sur cet aspect spécifique de la main-d’oeuvre féminine. On doit souvent procéder par analogie, à partir de la documentation des grands temples, et il faut sans doute intégrer dans les tâches féminines certaines activités de production agricole ou assimilée: on ne trouve pas de femme dans les travaux des champs proprement dits, mais le temple du dieu Šamaš à Sippar emploie, par exemple, pour l’entretien ou l’acquisition de sa volaille destinée aux offrandes alimentaires, quelques femmes[39].

Plus la famille est riche, plus elle recourt à du personnel spécialisé; on a vu qu’on assiste alors à une migration de la technicité de la sphère féminine à la sphère masculine: les grandes maisons ont un cuisinier, des spécialistes de divers artisanats qui leur sont attachés à demeure, et recourent probablement à la gestion écrite de l’utilisation de leurs ressources. Dans les cas les plus complexes, comme la famille Egibi de Babylone, la famille peut se répartir sur plusieurs maisons, voire sur plusieurs villes. Ainsi les Egibi ont-ils des implantations à Babylone, mais aussi à Borsippa et à Kiš, et leur personnel circule, semble-t-il, entre ces trois centres urbains.

Il faut également envisager la possibilité, dans les familles de la classe la plus élevée, de servantes et de serviteurs spécialisés dans les soins personnels, si l’on considère que la «cour divine» des temples peut reproduire non seulement la cour royale, mais aussi certaines très riches maisons: A. George[40] cite les «Filles de L’Ezida» et les «Filles de l’Esagil», qui servent de coiffeuses (ṣepirtu); et il faut penser aussi à un ou plusieurs barbier(s) dans ce genre de maison.

Le texte YOS 6 5, daté du 26-xii de l’année inaugurale de Nabonide rapporte d’ailleurs l’acquisition pour 58 sicles d’argent par Šum-ukīn, le Fermier Général de l’Eanna d’Uruk, d’un esclave barbier (lú qal-la lú šu-i) auprès d’un dénommé Nabû-mukīn-apli.

 Il existe d’autres femmes aux activités spécialisées: ainsi, comme en témoignent BE 8/1 47 et 000 (= Zawadzki 2010) des contrats de nourrice[41] existent.

Le texte NBC 4787 d’Uruk, cité dans Jursa 2010 p. 632 et note 3346 est l’un des rares à documenter les aspects économiques de l’accouchement:

ll. 5′ (…) 0,0.3 zú-lum-ma a-na a-la-du šá ina-é-an-na-al-si-iš 0,0.1 zú-lum-ma egir-ú-tu ina igi gu-gu-ú-a 0,1 munu4 0,1.2 še-bar la-bi-ri 4-tú a-na mí šab-su-tú

18 litres de dattes pour l’accouchement de Ina-Eanna-alsiš, 16 litres de dattes, fourniture supplémentaire, à la disposition de Gugūa, 36 litres de malt, 48 litres d’orge des réserves, 1/4 de sicle d’argent pour la sage-femme…»

 BE 8 47 (cf. San Nicolo 1935 p. 22)

Urki-šarrat, fille de Nabû-nakuttu-alsi, allaitera en tant que nourrice la fille d’Ardiya, fils de Gimillu, descendant d’Eppeš-ili, jusqu’à son sevrage. Chaque mois, Ardiya donnera à Nabû-nakuttu-alsi 1/3 de sicle d’argent. Urki-šarrat n’aura pas le droit d’abandonner la fille d ‘Ardiya; elle n’aura pas le droit d’aller dans un autre lieu jusqu’à la fin du mois d’Ululu de l’an 6; Urki-šarrat allaitera la fille d’Ardiya à partir du 1er Tašrītu de l’an 5, [………] à la fin du mois d’Ulûlu de l’an 6, Ardiya donnera à Nabû-nakuttu-alsi x sicles d’argent, valeur d’un habit (túg-kur-ra). (3 témoins, 1 scribe. Babylone, le 28 Ulûlu de l’an 5 de Nabonide, roi de Babylone. Fait en présence d’Equbuta, épouse de Nabû-nakuttu-alsi, mère d’Urki-šarrat. Courant jusqu’au Ier Nisannu , Nabû-nakuttu-alsi a reçu 2 sicles d’argent des mains d’Ardiya.

Deux explications sont possibles: la plus probable étant qu’on ait affaire, à une famille de simples particuliers dont la fille-(mère ?)[42] vient d’accoucher. Elle est en mesure d’allaiter la fille (sans nom…) d’Ardiya/Gimillu/Eppeš-ili pour une période d’un an, mais la transaction est passée avec ses parents et ce sont eux qui reçoivent ses gains (dont les six premiers mois versés en une seule fois). L’autre explication est qu’on ait affaire au produit d’une relation entre Ardiya et la fille d’un couple (servile?): Ardiya reconnaît l’enfant comme sienne, mais ne considère juridiquement la mère que comme une nourrice, et la rétribue en ce sens (cf. CH 6 170 sur la reconnaissance des enfants d’esclaves)

Au total, la part féminine dans l’économie domestique apparaît bien fondamentale, puisqu’il s’agit de transformer un certain nombre de matières premières de base en produits consommables et de veiller au bien-être des habitants, plus ou moins nombreux, de la maison. Selon le niveau social et la taille de la famille, les tâches sont plus ou moins déléguées, effectuées par des domestiques, voire par des esclaves spécialisés, libérant alors du temps pour la maîtresse de maison. Mais, de manière générale, il faut penser la vie à l’intérieur de la maison de manière collective, et la structure du ménage isolé n’est certainement pas celle qui rend le mieux compte de la réalité du rôle économique des femmes dans ce cadre.

2. Quel degré d’autonomie?

 a) Autonomie ou délégation de gestion
 Une gestion autonome? Le cas de Re’indu

Certaines femmes sortent du cadre étroit de l’activité productrice et assurent une partie de la réception des produits et de la gestion des stocks. Il leur arrive même de gérer des paiements courants, comme le montre un petit dossier constitué par les «archives» de Re’indu, une femme donnant des ordres de virement et d’achat sous le règne de Xerxès. Les contours de l’ensemble de l’archive restent très difficiles à cerner et il est probable que plusieurs des paiements effectués ou reçus par Re’indu soient à mettre au compte de la gestion d’une prébende; mais le fait demeure qu’une femme est ici clairement impliquée dans des mouvements de métal précieux correspondant à des paiements.

VS 6 192

VAT 4927

NRVU 798

lieu non précisé

fRe’indu/Bazûzu

nd

VS 6 303

VAT 4973

NRVU 854

lieu non précisé

fRe’indu/Bazûzu 

nd

VS 6 315

VAT 4982

NRVU 862

lieu non précisé

fRe’indu/Bazûzu 

nd

VS 6 317

VAT 4995

NRVU 863

lieu non précisé

fRe’indu/Bazûzu 

nd

VS 6 313

VAT 4996

NRVU 860

lieu non précisé

fRe’indu/Bazûzu 

nd

VS 4 202

VAT 4997

NRVU 793

lieu non précisé

fRe’indu/Bazûzu 

nd

VS 3 204

VAT 4998

NRVU 790

lieu non précisé

fRe’indu/Bazûzu 

nd

VS 4 193

VAT 5016

NRVU 574

 lieu non précisé

fRe’indu/Bazûzu 

Xerxès 01

VS 6 142

VAT 5017

NRVU 597

Borsippa

fRe’indu/Bazûzu 

Dar I 24

VS 6 191

VAT 5043

NRVU 797

lieu non précisé

fRe’indu/Bazûzu 

NR 01 (= Xerxès)

VS 6 311

VAT 5048

NRVU 859

 lieu non précisé

fRe’indu/Bazûzu 

nd

A 182

OECT 12

 

 lieu non précisé

fRe’indu/Bazûzu 

22-ii-Xerxès 2

Les femmes du dossier Nabû-ēṭir

On note également la situation particulière de certaines femmes dans des dossiers de transfert de produits alimentaires, tel celui rassemblé par R. Zadok à propos de Nabû-ēṭir[43]. Il s’agit d’un ensemble de courts billets, provenant très vraisemblablement de Borsippa, enregistrant des fournitures de produits alimentaires, pain et viande essentiellement, à des particuliers. Même si le contexte cultuel est très probable, il ne s’agit pas d’un dossier propre à l’administration de l’Ezida, comme le note C. Waerzeggers[44]. On serait plutôt dans la sphère des circuits personnels privés de redistribution de la nourriture servie ou simplement préparée pour les offrandes aux dieux et qui concerne au premier chef les prébendiers du temple.

On voit donc qu’à côté d’un circuit quasi commercial de la viande, dont fait état C. Waerzeggers à Borsippa, il en existe un autre, qui procède de la redistribution et des échanges personnels, dans lequel des femmes interviennent, comme bénéficiaires ou même comme donneuses d’ordre. On peut supposer que certaines d’entre elles sont mentionnées parce qu’elles ont la propriété nominale des prébendes qui fournissent ces revenus alimentaires, mais il n’est pas exclu que les interventions féminines traduisent aussi une forme de droit de regard sur l’acquisition des produits alimentaires destinés à leur communauté familiale.

Tout au long des années 26 et 27 de Darius Ier, on voit revenir certains noms de manière régulière: ceux de Amtiya, de Mullissu-iddin, de Balāṭ-napišti(?), de Mullissu-silim, de Bānītu-ittiya. Certaines reçoivent purement et simplement farine, pain, ou viande[45]; d’autres (et parfois les mêmes…) les transmettent, elles-mêmes ou par un intermédiaire à qui elles donnent des instructions écrites ou orales. Le n°13 (BM 29309), enregistre, de manière intéressante la livraison, sur ordre de Nabû-eṭir, d’un pain-ṣibtu par Bêl-eṭir à Mullissu-iddin à la place de 22 sicles de laine.

On remarque en particulier la place non négligeable, que tient Amtiya comme donneuse d’ordre[46]. Cela permet de rattacher à ce dossier la lettre CT 22 221 (même série de cote de musée), dans laquelle Amtiya indique à Bēl-ēṭir comment préparer la viande.

 NBB 221:

Lettre d’Amtiya à Bēl-eṭir. Maintenant, lorsque tu l’auras sous la main, la viande qui est à ta disposition, ouvre[47]-la et place-la dans du sel. Et si tu ne l’as pas sous la main à partir du 9ème jour, donne-la viande à Naṣir: que ce soit lui qui (l’)ouvre. Vois: c’est par l’intermédiaire d’Itti-Nabû-gūzu que je t’ai écrit.

Mais dans la majorité des cas, si la maîtresse de maison est habilitée à participer à la gestion, c’est le plus souvent en suivant les instructions de son mari. C’est ce dont témoigne BIN 1 28 d’Uruk(?), une lettre d’Innin-eṭerat à Nabû-šum-ukīn, «son seigneur». Elle l’informe de l’état de son domaine agricole et d’opérations financières qu’elle effectue selon ses instructions:

 (ll. 26sq.) «(…) à propos de ce que tu m’as écrit en ces termes: “J’ai laissé 5 sicles 1/2 d’argent dans la maison; il y a aussi 1 sicle (de) [……]ia et 1/2 sicle (de) Nadin, fils de Nabû-zēr-ukīn, plus 3 sicles moins 1/4 d’argent, soit un total de 10 sicles d’argent [que ……]… j’ai déposé” (…) 2 paires de chaussures et 2 bourses en cuir-parūtu de ………, voici que je les ai données en cadeau

 Une autonomie juridique ?

L’autonomie juridique de la femme dans le cadre du mariage est un sujet en soi, mais elle a des rapports certains avec l’autonomie économique. La question se pose pour la formation du couple: on sait, depuis les études de M. Roth, que l’épouse n’a que très peu d’initiative dans la conclusion du mariage. Elle est ensuite insérée dans un groupe familial plus ou moins étendu avec sa hiérarchie propre (cf. ci-dessous). Et elle ne sort du mariage, le plus souvent que par le décès de son époux. Il existe quand même quelques très rares cas de dissolution, qui ont été analysés par C. Wunsch[48]: l’un à la suite de la rupture d’une promesse de mariage (Wunsch BA 2 p. 40 n°9), l’autre qui est un véritable cas de divorce (Wunsch BA 2 p. 32sq. n°8).

On trouve également un autre aspect de l’autonomie domestique des femme qui est celui de l’intervention dans la gestion des biens, tout particulièrement les biens dotaux. La situation la plus répandue est que ces biens soient pris en charge par le chef masculin de la famille dans laquelle entre une jeune épouse: il peut s’agit de son beau-père, d’un beau-frère, ou, naturellement, de son époux. C. Waerzeggers a montré que ces gestionnaires ont toute latitude pour exploiter les biens dotaux et qu’il leur arrive même de les dilapider[49]. On observe aussi que plus le niveau de richesse de l’épouse est élevé, plus son degré d’autonomie est grand, et les études sont nombreuses à avoir mis en évidence ces situations où une femme gère elle-même ou avec des membres de sa famille d’origine ses biens dotaux: le cas le mieux connu est celui d’Ina-Esagil-ramat, épouse d’Iddin-Nabu/Nappāḫu. On y note en particulier la présence d’esclaves féminines qualifiées de mulugu, pour lesquels M. Roth[50] a montré qu’elles peuvent être utilisées par le mari (en particulier comme gage antichrétique d’une dette), mais qu’elles et leur éventuelle descendance restent la propriété de l’épouse au titre de la dot.

On n’entrera pas outre mesure dans l’utilisation de la dot, dans la mesure où cet aspect concerne aussi de près les problèmes de transmission du patrimoine qui sont une autre partie de la recherche, et où ce qui est ici en cause est avant tout de déterminer la part prise par la femme dans l’économie de la maison et le degré d’autonomie dont elle peut y disposer. Il apparaît, de toute manière assez clairement que si la femme mariée garde normalement la propriété de ses biens dotaux, et qu’elle est protégée par la loi dans ce cadre, elle n’en a que très rarement la disposition: s’il s’agit de biens fonciers, ils sont le plus souvent gérés par la partie masculine de la famille et leur revenu sert à l’entretien de la famille: cf. la mention du procès Edinburgh n°69 «Bel-apla-iddin pourra prendre auprès d’Etellitu son épouse le coût de sa nourriture et de son habillement, à concurrence du montant de sa dot»2

b) la hiérarchie interne de la maisonnée

Quand on envisage les choses en termes de maisonnée, on voit qu’il existe une hiérarchie féminine interne qui reproduit d’une certaine manière la hiérarchie masculine de la maisonnée. La lettre CT 22 6 [BM 31121 = S+ 76-11-17, 848] rend assez bien compte de cette situation: elle est envoyée par Itti-Marduk-balāṭu, descendant d’Egibi, qui écrit sous son diminutif d’Iddinaia, à sa famille[51]. La destinataire principale est sa mère, Qudāšu; il s’adresse ensuite spécifiquement à ses beaux-parents, Iddin-Marduk et Ina-Esagil-rāmat, (mais pas à son épouse Nuptaia !); il s’enquiert ensuite de la santé d’un certain nombre de personens, dont ses fils et ses filles. On a clairement l’impression que ce groupe familial est localisé dans un espace sinon unique, du moins commun à beaucoup de ses participants.

 Les femmes de la maison

Selon le niveau social de la famille, selon sa taille, aussi, on peut avoir une mère de famille assistée de sa ou ses filles puis de sa ou ses belles-filles, puis une maîtresse gouvernant un certain nombre de domestiques de statut serviles plus ou moins jeunes: en général on les appelle «petite» (qallatu), mais il existe aussi des stades plus expérimentés, y compris nourrices, cuisinières et préposées à la toilette. Il faut évidemment supposer des systèmes mixtes associant filles et belles-filles de la famille et esclaves domestiques. Une partie de leurs activités est consacrée aussi à la production des vêtements.

Mais la hiérarchie féminine interne peut être encore plus compliquée: il faut partir ici des remarques développées par K. Abraham[52] à propos des jeunes épouses dont le père est absent au moment du mariage: il s’agit soit d’orphelines, soit de «filles sans père», qui sont très souvent des enfants trouvées, recueillies et adoptées par des femmes de familles aisées:

«The difference between the orphaned and the father-less brides can be traced interestingly enough to the time long before they were married, when they were taken in as babies or small children. (…) We can see that orphaned girls were formally adopted, then served (palāḫu) their adoptive parent(s), but wer free to go, once the latter has/have died. On the other hand, foundling girls were taken in by well-to-do Babylonian women or by the temple, but without being formally adopted. They were to remain with their foster parentsin order to serve (palāḫu) them. They could have left their foster parents on the condition that they were to be married to a hal-free person (…) or that they were to enter another household as half-free».

 Esclaves et dépendantes

La structure interne de ces familles est normalement liée à l’habitat urbain, mais on sait que chaque famille de notables dispose de domaines agricoles proches de la ville, qu’elle fait exploiter par des familles d’esclaves ou de dépendants. Il est alors probable qu’à l’occasion les forces de travail ou les compétences de ces fermiers et fermières servile sou dépendants soient aussi mobilisés dans le cadre du fonctionnement de la maison de ville (au moment du transport des récoltes ou du filage de la laine par exemple).

Les frontières du groupe familial sur lequel les femmes exercent une autorité en rapport avec les taches spécialisées qui leur sont affectées restent floues, en l’état actuel de nos connaissances. On a vu qu’il comprend vraisemblablement plusieurs familles nucléaires, ainsi que des domestiques de statut servile, plus ou moins gérés en commun. Les esclaves figurent en bas de la hiérarchie familiale, mais il y a sans doute une distinction à opérer entre ceux et celles qui sont une propriété de la famille dans son ensemble, sans rattachement particulier, et ceux et celles qui sont plus spécialement attachés à une personne, ou un couple, à l’intérieur du groupe familial. Le groupe des esclaves domestiques est globalement qualifié par le terme de nišê bīti. Une sous-catégorie possible est celle des esclaves féminines qui ont des enfants de l’un des membres de la famille, puisque les amours ancillaires existent et que le veuvage de l’un des membres de la famille élargie n’entraîne pas forcément un remariage. Mais les enfants nés de ces unions ne sont pas forcément reconnus par le père comme héritiers et gardent alors un statut inférieur.

Dans les familles les plus riches, on doit aussi compter des formes d’association impliquant une forme de dépendance, voire de clientélisme. C’est-à-dire que des membres de la maisonnée sont attachés à la famille ni par les liens du sang, ni par une appartenance en tant qu’esclave, mais par une dépendance volontaire qui en fait les client(e)s de cette famille. C’est peut-être ce qui, au fond, est exprimé par la mention des «maisons de mār banî» dans lesquelles «entrent» des personnes en situation précaire[53]. Sans vouloir régler ici la difficile question de ce que sont ces maisons de mār banî, il est possible que le cas parfois litigieux du rattachement de certaines personnes à la «maison d’un mār banî», fasse allusion à l’existence de semblables maisonnées et au système de clientèle qui en résulte. Dans ce cas, les clauses de garantie, dans les ventes d’esclaves, concernant la non appartenance au statut d’esclave royal (arad-šarrūṭu), d’oblat (širki-ilūtu) de serf (šušānūtu), de personnel de tenure militaire (bīt sīsi, bīt narkabti) ou de domaine royal (bīt kussi), s’appliqueraient aussi à l’état de «clientèle» (mār banûtu).

Au final, on se trouve donc en présence d’une hiérarchie complexe des statuts féminins au sein des maisons urbaines, qui commande très certainement le type d’activité attribuée à chacune des femmes de la maison, depuis les jeunes esclaves jsuqu’à la maîtresse de la maison. Cette hiérarchie peut être résumée dans le tableau suivant, de sens descendant, dont il faudrait pouvoir encore moduler la répartition en fonction des âges et des qualifications propres, mais celles-ci nous restent cependant inconnues la plupart du temps.

 

Statut juridique       

Place dans la famille

 

 

libre

maîtresse de maison (bēlet bīti)
épouse des fils de la maison
fille de plein droit (non encore mariée)
fille (orpheline) adoptée (non encore mariée)
fille d’une esclave et du maître de maison (reconnue)
   

dépendante

fille (enfant trouvée) adoptée
femme dépendante (cliente de mār banî)
   

servile

esclave personnelle
fille d’une esclave et du maître de maison (non reconnue)
esclave de la famille

 

3. Une économie de femmes seules?

 a) marginalisation accidentelle: les veuves

On peut partir de la remarque de M. Roth[54]:

 «(…) women first married between the ages of fourtheen and twenty and men between the ages of twenty-six and thirty-two. This decade or more age difference between spouses suggests that many women, surviving childbirth , would outlive their husbands, producing a relatively young widowed female population, still fertile and capable of reproduction».

Outre la possibilité d’un nombre élevé de veuves, cette remarque suggère également que l’inégalité d’autonomie était renforcée par la différence d’âge quand il s’agissait d’un premier mariage féminin: une jeune épouse de 17 à 18 ans n’était guère en situation de s’imposer à un époux trentenaire, et encore moins à la mère de celui-ci, probablement quinquagénaire. Par contre, comme le remarque M. Roth, le nombre de familles monoparentales dirigées par des veuves était sans doute assez élevé. Il faut cependant faire la part de l’entourage familial: le rôle de la communauté familiale est précisément d’aider à la prise en charge de ceux de ses membres dont la famille nucléaire a souffert d’une disparition. Même dans le cas des jeunes veuves avec enfants, on n’avait donc que peu de cas de femmes réellement isolées.

Cependant une femme se retrouvant veuve et sans enfants pouvait être amenée à réintégrer sa famille d’origine. Comme le remarque M. Roth[55]:

«the death of a husband, then, would not necessarily make a woman legally and economically independant if there was a prior jural authority to reassort control».

 Dans l’ensemble, le veuvage féminin apparaît comme un moment de fragilité et de vulnérabilité: on notera par exemple le cas de Zunnaia, une veuve remariée dont le beau-père refuse que son fils du premier lit devienne l’héritier de son second mariage[56]. De même, le texte de mariage Nbk 101 (= Roth n°4) a bien été analysé par G. van Driel[57] comme comportant une compensation pour la mère, veuve, de la jeune femme épousée, à laquelle le mari fournit un esclave et une somme d’une mine et demi d’argent. Il ne s’agit pas à proprement parler de l’«achat» de l’épouse, mais de la prise en charge forfaitaire des besoins de la mère de cette dernière, auprès de qui l’épouse remplissait la fonction de soutien économique primordial:

 ll. 4-9: «Ḫammaia l’a écouté favorablement, et elle lui a donné comme épouse sa fille La-tubāšinni. Et Dagil-ilāni, de son plein gré, a donné à Ḫammaia, en échange (kūm) de sa fille La-tubāšinni, l’esclave Ana-muḫḫī-bēl-amur qui avait été acheté pour 1/2 mine d’argent, plus 1 mine 1/2 d’argent avec lui.»

 b) marginalisation professionnelle: les prostituées et les cabaretières

 La justification d’une présence féminine à la tête des débits de boisson, qui n’est par ailleurs pas exclusive, peut trouver sa raison première dans le fait qu’il s’agit d’un substitut de la maison privée, où l’on peut boire et manger, et dont la production est à ce titre d’abord considérée comme relevant des femmes.

Ce point fera l’objet d’une recherche spécifique et de développements ultérieurs

Conclusion provisoire

            Au terme de cette enquête, un certain nombre de faits apparaissent assez clairement: la société néo-babylonienne, dans sa composante urbaine, la seule vraiment bien documentée par les textes de la pratique, est structurée par le modèle de la famille collective. Une répartition des tâches entre hommes et femmes en fonction des compétences — plus ou moins supposées — fait que les femmes assurent l’entretien courant (toilette, nourriture, habillement) et prennent en charge les enfants en bas-âge et les personnes âgées. Mais très peu de ces femmes le font à un stade individuel: elles constituent, soit par le réseau des relations familiales, soit par le biais de la domesticité féminine, un groupe suffisamment nombreux et structuré pour répondre aux besoins. À l’intérieur de ce groupe règne une hiérarchie plus ou moins forte, mais qui assigne à chacune des femmes une place stricte. Au sommet, la maîtresse de maison (bēlet bīti) jouit d’une considération suffisante pour bénéficier dans certaines transactions juridiques de cadeaux spécifiques[58]. Il semble également qu’elle dispose d’une forme de délégation de gestion lorsque le chef de famille est absent, comme en témoigne la correspondance privée.

Plus la situation sociale de la famille est élevée, plus le groupe féminin est susceptible d’être nombreux, mais également diversifié, certaines des domestiques prenant en charge des activités très spécifiques. Les esclaves ont par ailleurs un double statut: elles participent à la production domestique, mais peuvent aussi être placées dans d’autres familles en tant que gages antichrétiques. Si cette situation n’est pas réservée aux femmes, et si elle n’est pas toujours le fruit d’une décision volontaire, elle permet en général à une famille aisée de disposer d’un revenu complémentaire

On observe aussi que certaines tâches sont prises en charge par un technicien, qui est en général un homme: c’est typiquement le cas des cuisiniers/boulangers (nuḫatimmu) dans les grandes maisons. Il n’est pas impossible qu’une partie de la production domestique ait été externalisée, soit par le biais de boutiques accolées à une grande maison (mais rien n’indique qu’elles aient été tenues par des femmes), soit mise sur le marché, en particulier pour certains vêtements.

De ce fait, un débat particulièrement intéressant est à mener sur le degré d’insertion de l’économie familiale dans le processus général de production et de commercialisation à l’oeuvre en Babylonie au Ier millénaire. Si l’on suit les conclusions de Jursa 2010, on est en présence d’une société urbaine très insérée dans l’économie de marché et susceptible de produire, dans le cadre familial, des biens qui sont ensuite vendus (ou troqués ?) à l’extérieur. Cette vision des choses suppose une importante monétarisation des échanges (même si la monnaie de métal n’existe pas en tant que telle), une forte activité des sociétés commerciales privées (visibles à travers les contrats ana ḫarrāni), et une spécialisation du travail déjà très avancée. On serait alors dans un type de société urbaine particulièrement actif et diversifié (ce qui, après tout, correspond assez bien à la vision traditionnelle de la Babylone du Ier millénaire…).

À l’inverse, l’aspect très traditionnel du cadre dans lequel s’exerce la production familiale dont les femmes ont la responsabilité (artisanat alimentaire et artisanat textile) correspond assez bien avec ce que nous documentent les textes, si l’on admet que le recours à des artisans spécialisés extérieurs est surtout une question de statut social. Cependant l’exemple paléo-assyrien des familles de marchands insérées dans un processus général de production textile montre que les deux aspects ne sont pas incompatibles.

D’autre part, on doit prêter attention au fait que les données fournies par les contrats de mariage, en particulier et les inventaires de dot reflètent des situations qui sont souvent atypiques[59] et qui traduisent parfois une situation de vulnérabilité socio-économique des familles concernées. On ne peut donc pas en déduire a priori un état systématique d’infériorité des épouses néo-babyloniennes.

            Au final, après ce premier examen de la part prise par les femmes dans l’économie domestique, des pistes de réflexion apparaissent, mais les conclusions sont encore provisoires et nécessitent une série d’études de cas spécifiques, orientées dans cette direction.


[1] Voir la «bibliographie néo-babylonienne» dans le recueil bibliographique rassemblé pour le projet REFEMA. Les transcriptions des textes présentés ici en traduction seront disponibles dans une annexe en ligne sur le site internet dédié au projet.

[2] Baker, Nappāḫu p. 32

[3] Jursa 2000, p. 498-499 (BM 64153 = Bertin 1446).

[4] On verra un peu plus loin que les inventaires des dots sont sélectifs et ne reproduisent pas forcément l’ensemble du mobilier d’une maisonnée

[5] Il est à peu près exclu qu’il se soit agi de l’épouse d’Iddin-Nabû, Ina-Esagil-ramat, car elle était d’un rang social qui lui permettait de ne pas effectuer elle-même ce genre de tâche.

[6] le texte est daté de l’an 41 de l’ère séleucide, en 270 av. n. è.

[7] dūdu est compris par les dictionnaires comme une marmite («kettle»). Il peut être placé sur un naḫmaṣu, compris comme un «support» (CAD N1 140), mais qui est plutôt un dispositif servant à transporter la marmite (chaude?), au vu du sens initial de ḫamāṣu «to tear away».

[8] Par exemple dans les cercles de voisinage des sociétés semi-urbaines d’Italie du sud aux époques médiévale et moderne («vicinato»).

[9] Ce point a fait l’objet d’une analyse détaillée dans la thèse de doctorat de Y. Watai , p. 000-000.

[10] Roth 199o, p. 13.

[11] Roth 199o, p. 15, et développé spécifiquement à propos du sex-linked dowry, p. 36.

[12] «these slaves are part of a female-to-female donation, (…) and are specifically intended to facilitate the wife’s adjustment to her new home and circumstances».

[13] Cf. dès 1978 l’article de N. Postgate dans l’Archéologie de l’Iraq, p. 000.

[14] Hackl 2005, p. 705-707.

[15] Cf. la thèse de Y. Watai, p. 000.

[16] Eventuellement, la littérature populaire (en particulier satirique: cf. le texte publié par A. Cavigneaux sur «the Rake’s porgress») peut donner des indications.

[17] Waerzeggers 2006, p. 95.

[18] Miglus 1999, p. 197-198 et Tableau 32.

[19] Cf. en partiucleir Miglus 1999 p. 198.

[20] Par commodité, on gardera ici le terme de «bière», qui ne convient pas particulièrement à la réalisation de cette boisson fermentée, mais que la tradition savante a pris l’habitude d’employer.

[21] Hackl, Jankovic, Jursa 2010, p. 216 n°28:3-10 «(…) Fais macérer les 10 kurru ((= 1800 l.) de dattes pour faire de la bière claire (pīṣu); on a fourni pour cela 30 jarres-dannu; s’il y a manque de cruches-haṣbātu, donne des dattes à Nabû-taqbi-līšir, pour qu’il les entrepose en ville et se charge de les faire macérer. (Mais) commence à faire macérer tout ce qu’il y a en plus (des 10 kurru) et fournis les dattes et l’épice-kasu.

[22] Castel 1993, p. 84.

[23] Joannès 19oo (Femmes des grands organismes)

[24] Waerzeggers 2010, p. 234. Sur la participation des femmes, en général, aux activités cultuelles, très restreinte au Ier millénaire, cf. ibid. p. 49-51.

[25] Cf. cependant la remarque de Castel 1993, p. 95: «(…) les aménagements liés au feu ne sont pas nécessairement installés dans les espaces à l’air libre. (…) Les “cuisines” sont aussi bien de grands espaces que de petits, quelle que soit la taille des maisons».

[26] Une mention très intéressante se trouve dans un texte publié par C. Wunsch (BA 2 n°17): une femme, Gagaia, s’y procure du pain «à la porte de la maison des boulangers» (1 qa ninda-há šá ká é lú mu-meš) et de la bière «à la porte de la maison des brasseurs» (1 qa kaš-sag šá ká é lú lunga-meš). On pourrait y voir une mention de boutiques où ces produits sont vendus, mais le contexte général et les mentions parallèles orientent plutôt vers le système des prébende et des ateliers du temple.

[27] Cf. Wunsch, Iddin-Marduk, n°93. Mêmes individus ?

[28] Les textes bibliques osnt plus explicite sà cet égard: cf. le récit du mariage de Jacob à Harran.

[29] Castel 1992, p. 83.

[30] cf. mémoire de master 2 de L. Quillien. Mention du tamaris comme bois pour fabriquer les métiers à tisser.

[31]  Cf. Jursa 2010, p. 221: «The karballatu cap is a headgear typically worn by soldiers», et à propos de FLP 667 (note 1273): «In this case, 240 caps are bought, or manufactured, for one mina of silver».

[32] CDA 96a: an overgarment

[33] collations de M. Roth dans RA 82 p. 136 note 17.

[34] Le mémoire de m2 de L. Quillien mentionne ainsi une(!) atetstation de lin cultivé par des particuliers.

[35] Ce dossier a été étudié dans Waerzeggers 20oo

[36] Huile de sésame: une huile utile pour la repousse des cheveux, car elle nourrit les bulbes pileux et leur fournit un milieu approprié pour la croissance. Il contient de l’acide lynolique (nom scientifique), qui lutte contre les maladies dermatologiques, telles que l’eczéma, la kératinisation folliculaire, et agit comme un écran solaire pour la peau

[37] Forbes 1965 (Studies in Ancient Technologies tome III), p. 186: «In Mesopotamia, however, some kind of soap was manufactured, certainly as early as the Ur III Period, when the Sumerians boiled oil and alkali together».

[38] Waerzeggers 2006: RA 100, p. 83-96.

[39] Pour une très grande majorité d’hommes, cependant: cf. les cas de Bābāia, Ḫimmītu, Inbāia, Nādāia, Suddirtu, Šikkû mentionnées dans Jankovic 2004.

[40] George 2000 p. 295 «Presumably position of such goddesses in the divine courts was analogous with the situation of young unmarried daughters in a human household»

[41] Pour une nourrice royale, cf. Evetts, Inscriptions, App. n°2 = Graziani, n°8: 6 gur še-bar šá ar-ti-im mu-še-ni-iq-tu4 šá it-ta-aḫ-šá-aḫ dumu-mí lugal (année inaugurale de Xerxès).

[42] Cf. Stol, CM 14 p. 182, qui y voit peut-être une jeune veuve.

[43] Zadok 2006 («The Text Group of Nabû-eṭer» AfO 51 (2005-2006), pp.147-197).

[44] Waerzeggers  2010, p. 000.

[45] n°54 (BM 29310), 148 (BM 96490), 149 (BM 29570), 150 (BM 29267).

[46] Le n°93 (BM 96543) daté du mois i de l’an 27 de Darius Ier cite une Andiya, fille de Ḫiptaia, mais il n’est pas sûr qu’il faille tout ramener à l’unité, vu le caractère trsè commun du  nom Amtiya/Andiya.

[47] šu-pal-li-ka (l. 6) et lu-šu-pal-li-ka (l. 14) sont considérés comme un impératif 2ème personne et un précatif 3ème personne, singulier, de napalkû au système III, là où l’on attendrait šupalkî et lišpalki.

[48] <Référence à venir>

[49] Sur l’exploitation de la dot de la femme par le mari, cf. C. Waerzeggers , AfO 46/47 p. 183-200.

[50] M. Roth 1989/90 p. 15-17; cf. la confirmation par Baker 2004 p. 73.

[51] Itti-Marduk-balāṭu est alors en déplacement dans le pays de pa-ni-ra-ga-na (lecture non assurée), sans doute en Iran d’après ce que l’on sait de ses déplacements: cf. la thèse de G. Tolini, chapitre 000. D’après G. Tolini (communication personnelle), le toponyme serait peut-être plutôt à lire a!-sa!-ra-ga-na et serait à mettre en rapport avec Asurukanu en Médie où se trouve effectivement Itti-Marduk-balāṭu au mois vi bis de l’an 2 de Cyrus, d’après le texte Cyr. 58.

[52] Abraham 2006 p. 210-211.

[53] Voir la discussion de cette institution dans Roth 1988, 1989, et CTMMA III , p. 214 note 3. voir M. T. Roth, 1988 Women in Transition and the bīt mār bāni. Revue d’Assyriologie 82:131-138. et 1989 A Case of contested Status In DUMU-E2-DUB-BA-A : Studies in Honor of A. K. Sjöberg, edited by D. L. M. T. R. H. Behrens, pp. 481-489, Philadelphia.> cf. Weisberg n°38, un esclave est affranchi à l’occasion de son mariage et transformé en client (on lui rédige une tablette de mar bani), mais il est prévu qu’il deviendra ensuite, avec ses enfants, un zaku d’Ištar d’Uruk. Cela reviendrait à dire qu’au couple ardu (esclave)/ša bît mar bani (client) dans une maison privée, correspondrait un couple širku (oblat)/zakû (client du temple) dans le sanctuaire?

[54] Roth 1993 p. 4. Cette estimation est cependnat tempérée par G. van Driel, Care of Elderly p. 173, qui observe: «M. T. Roth’s estimates of the age of the partners in the “Mediterranean marriage” are no more than acceptable intelligent guesses. We can speculate with confidence that few people could expect to reach the age of forty even if they had passed the ten year boundary».

[55] Roth 1993 p. 22.

[56] transcription et traduction la plus récente dans MMA III n°102.

[57] Care of the Elderly in the Ancient Near East, p. 188

[58] cf. dans la thèse de Y. Watai, l’hypothèse que lors des ventes de maison on reconnaît une sorte de droit de propriété virtuel à la maîtresse de maison au titre de sa présence permanente dans les lieux, qui se traduit par la remise d’un cadeau sous la forme d’un habit: cf. CAD B 191b lubāri/túg-há ša bēlet bīti.

[59] Présentation par C. Wunsch au congrès de Berlin sur Babylone en 2009 des textes de Al-Yaḫūdu.

 

Fiches de lecture (bibliogr. néo-babylonienne)

Neo-Babylonian Bibliography: Abstracts (First part)

 

 

ABRAHAM K.,

–           «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).

 

BAHRANI Z.,

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.

 

BEAULIEU P-A.,

“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.

 

CARDASCIA G.,

“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.

 

CZECHOWICZ N.,

“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.

 

DHORME P-E ET THUREAU-DANGIN F.,

« 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.

 

GREENFIELD J.,

“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.

 

JOANNÈS F.,

– “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.

 

KOCH-WESTENHOLZ U.,

“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.

 

MATSUSHIMA E.,

– “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.

 

OPPERT J.,

“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.

 

REVILLOUT E. ET V.,

“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.

 

ROTH M.,

– “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.

 

WUNSCH C.,

– “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.