Mesopotamian Marriage Contract

(Translator: J.J. Finkelstein)

Old Assyrian, 19th century B.C. Text: B. Hrozný, Inscriptions Cunéiformes du Kultépé (Praha, 1952). Transliteration and translation, Hrozný, in Symbolae Koschaker (Studia et Documenta II, 1939), 108ff. For bibliography of discussions cf. H. Hirsch, Orientalia, xxxv (1966), 259f[a]

Laqipum has married Hatala, daughter of Enishru. In the country (i.e., Central Anatolia) Laqipum (5) may not marry another (woman)—(but) in the City (i.e., Ashur) he may marry a hierodule.[1] If within two years she (i.e., Hatala) does not provide him with offspring, (10) she herself will purchase a slavewoman, and later on, after she[2] will have produced a child by him, (15) he may then dispose of her by sale wheresoever he pleases. [3] Should Laqipum choose to divorce her (text: "him"), he must pay (her) five minas of silver- (20) and should Hatala choose to divorce him, she must pay (him) five minas of silver. Witnesses: Masa, Ashurishtikal, (25) Talia, Shupianika.

[1] Akk. qadi$tum, who, according to Middle Assyrian Laws § 40, may be married to a free citizen, but her status would probably have been inferior to that of a "first" wife under the circumstances envisaged in this contract.
[2] The translation assumes that the subject is the slavewoman, but it is equally possible that Hatala is the subject, if the verb is rendered "provided" rather than "produced," but the sense is not materially affected either way.
[3] The rendering is based on the fact that the pronoun and the verb are masculine, but considering that the masculine is also used throughout in the following two clauses, even when Hatala is clearly the object of the first and the second, it might be presumed that she is the subject here also, which would configure better with the fact that it is she who was to provide the slavewoman to begin with, and presumably would also retain the right to sell her.

[a] ANET p. {543}.


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