Ancient Egyptian Marriage

Ancient Egyptian marriage has some valuable lessons to teach us today. Of course everything wasn’t perfect back then with the way things were done, but if obviously worked for them and we can always learn from a system that worked.

Nubian woman of Ancient Egyptian or Sudanese descent

Interesting Facts About Ancient Egyptian Marriage

  • Though polygamy was not recognized as the norm, in homes where it did exist only one woman held the position of principal wife or “lady of the household.” Even though the more affluent Egyptian men could have multiple wives, two of them could be considered as the “principal wives” whilst the other wives were admitted into the household as “inferior wives” or slaves.
  • If a husband wanted to take a second wife he had to pay the first wife. Since the wife had the right to rule over her husband, he would sign a contract that all her commands must be obeyed. Women had a high position with almost unlimited liberty.
  • It is widely assumed that brothers and sisters were permitted to marry each other, especially among royalty and in families where an inheritance or property was concerned. However, this notion has been questioned because it is known that ancient Egyptian husbands and wives referred to each other as “brother” and “sister” as a term of endearment.
  • Marriages either had a full written contract or none at all. The contract consisted of details involving dowry, property, children, etc. They were so detailed that they often eliminated the need for a will. Even though these contracts strongly favored the wives, they could be canceled at any time as long as the other party consented.
  • A man looking to get married would employ a “khatbeh”, i.e. a betrother or match maker who would make all the arrangements for him. The khatbeh would negotiate dowry payments as well. AT the end of all the festivities, when the couple is finally alone, the groom would then lift the bride’s veil to see her face for the first time.
  • Quite unlike many other African weddings, an ancient Egyptian marriage ceremony tended to be very simple and consist of the wife simply moving into her husband’s home. Of course some families did celebrate the new union but the bigger more flamboyant ceremonies were not typically performed.

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