4000-year-old tablets reveal rights of Assyrian women

In the Bronze Age, Kültepe, a trading post in central Turkey, and its 70 inhabitants, seem to be the precursors of women's rights. While still today, in the world, all this is sometimes debated, Anatolian merchants had carved in rock the foundations of their society.

Dsince 1948, more than 22 tablets have been unearthed, making this site a mine of archaeological information. These ancestral tablets mainly reveal commercial data but also a lot of social data.

Fikri Kulakrogl from Ankara University explains:

“From women's rights to the adoption of children, or even arranged marriages at birth, the recently excavated tablets include a whole set of social and civilizational data from pre-ancient Anatolia. There is a touching letter from a woman to her husband, or a letter of complaint from another about his mother-in-law. For example, it would be impossible to find such data in the archives of the Ottoman Empire. "

We learn that the women lived there peacefully. They had their own business and managed their own nest egg. They had full authority to make choices for their children without needing the approval of their husbands. The marriages were generally monogamous. Only the king and the merchants, who could have another wife in a different city, could claim polygamy. In these cases too, everything was regulated so that the second women were not harmed. Thus, in the event of divorce, they received a pension for life, even in the event of remarriage, which gave them a comfortable situation.

Cécile Michel, translator specializing in cuneiform writing, says:

“They had many more rights than the Babylonian women, for example, who lived at the same time in southern Mesopotamia. […] Women were also the guardians of religion and moral principles. "

With its archaeological and social wealth, Kültepe hopes to include its name on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Photo Credit: CC British Museum

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