Egyptian and Mesopotamian women’s roles and family life share many similarities, but also some differences. Both cultures have women who are the heart of their families, a mother or wife. Egyptian women are more powerful in their roles as women than those in Mesopotamia. Both cultures have strict marriage guidelines that are unique and disturbing. Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia valued women more if they were royal. In general, Egyptian women had more rights than Mesopotamian women when it came to marriages and property ownership. Although women’s roles in these two societies were different, they still resembled each other. Men treated them like slaves or property.

I find their approach to marriage and family very disturbing. Both cultures had young females marry around 12 years of age or puberty. In both cultures, young females are still in 6th or 7th grade and still working toward graduation high school. Both cultures have never given women the opportunity to make their decisions. In their culture, marriage is a social duty. Marriage is not a sacred and holy union in their society, but a union which appeals to the flesh.

The roles of Mesopotamian woman are clearly defined and strict. They were either the daughters of their husbands or wives. Today, this is common. Women can only act independently if they have a husband with power or status. Or, if she is royalty. She would be viewed as inferior if her spouse did not have a high-ranking position and was wealthy. This statement is a little off-base. I think men today love money more than they care about truth or righteousness. I do not believe that men should define a woman, because good men can be married to good wives and vice versa. Good husbands should also be married. In Mesopotamian culture, women without husbands were not regarded as having power or status. I believe that a wife is defined by her husband who shares the same beliefs about doing what is right in God’s eyes. God created woman and man. There is a specific man for each woman.

In Mesopotamia it was not uncommon for fathers to buy their daughters from them. However, this practice declined after 3000 BC. Women in Mesopotamia were allowed to do and go wherever they wanted as long as their husbands or widows gave them permission. This statement is true to some extent. I think it’s a bit much to ask permission of your husband for everything. Marriage is a family affair. The wife, in the traditional family, becomes part of their husband’s extended family. In Mesopotamian tradition, if a woman’s husband died, then she was to marry his brother or another male close relative.

How is it that a man who was a brother, relative or close friend of the deceased can marry his wife? It is ungodly to me. The ancient Egyptians also practiced this same thing. A woman Pharaoh was not allowed to marry a mortal. She was considered a divine being. Pharaohs choose spouses within their royal families. Hatshepsut for example married Thutmose her half brother. This seems to be a clean, holy practice. But I think a God anointed individual will consider it not holy.

Hammurabi code stated that wives are bought and resold in a large number. In Mesopotamia, women were expected to accept sexual advances from strangers in exchange for silver coins in order to fulfill their duty to the goddess. In this culture, women are treated like a slave. Women in Mesopotamia were not given any rights. They were treated like a wife. In Mesopotamian unions, the father of the groom held considerable influence. The groom’s father, for instance, could give a bride to a groom’s brother if the groom dies or is unhappy with his marriage. From a young age, women were trained to become wives, mothers, and housekeepers. They could not go to school if they came from a non-royal family, or one that was not run by priests and scribes. The women in this example are not respected and devalued.

In some ways, ancient Egypt’s marriage customs make more sense compared to Mesopotamia. Despite the fact that females were married so young, it was still up to their parents to choose the best partner for them. Women were said to be making more decisions for the family and controlling more of their home. It was not the husband’s responsibility to control all of his wife’s property. Ancient Egypt had more independence for women. Ancient Mesopotamian woman were treated with more respect and appreciation.

Egyptian wives are more respected and able to accept themselves. Egyptian law grants women the ability to initiate divorces and complete them. After marriage, women retained their ownership rights. Women were not permitted to inherit a husband’s property in Mesopotamia when there was a male heir. The Code of Hammurabi of the 18th century allowed women to divorce their husbands and have property in certain circumstances.

Ancient Egypt was a society where women and men were treated equally. In many ancient Egyptian paintings, women are seen supporting, clasping, and protecting their husbands. In some ways, then, a woman might be seen as a protector, perhaps associated with a protective goddess. Women in ancient Egypt were also skilled musicians, dancers or temple staff. Women are shown in tomb inscriptions and scenes depicting weaving workshops. Women were involved in politics, religion, and funerary affairs. Women in Mesopotamia were independent and equal to men. Contrary to Mesopotamian culture, women did not need to be slavishly controlled by their men or ask for their permission to go somewhere or do something. Women weren’t treated as individuals if the husband didn’t have a high-ranking position or status. In Egypt, women were treated with respect and more honor by men than Mesopotamian woman.

Egyptians prefer a female with royal blood to a male without royal blood. It makes sense. Anointed, or chosen by God is what we call a person with royal lineage. The person with royal blood is also referred to as a God’s servant. In Egyptian society, a royal-blooded person is also called a Pharaoh.

In ancient Egypt, women had daily routines to take good care of their family. She would wake up her husband, children, and pets at sunrise to go to work or school. She would prepare breakfast and clean the house afterwards. She ensured that the home was pest-free and free from rodents. Many women choose to work at home because of their busy schedules. Egyptian women are respected for their strong character. Also, they proved that Egyptian women are capable of almost anything; from running a household to providing for family.

Both cultures train their young women to be good mothers, wives and housekeepers from an early age. They played only this role in the society. This was brilliant. To train them so young, it made them more responsible and independent. Above all, they became a better wife. It was a great habit passed down from generation-to-generation; to be trained to become a woman and mother. It is a great honor to me that they have shared the role women play with other cultures. Hatshepsut is the most well-known of all the God’s women during the New Kingdom. She ruled Egypt from 1479-1458 BCE. She ruled Egypt for 20 years during the 15th century B.C. She’s considered to be one of Egypt’s best pharaohs. Hatshepsut was a very strange woman. She chose male gender and ruled as one throughout her reign. Hatshepsut should respect that men are in charge and considered to be the leaders.

Some of the powerful women in Mesopotamia are known as priestesses. Some families sold their daughters to temples, in exchange of a family priestess. Families also sold their daughters as prostitution and slaves. Mesopotamian at the time did not see this as degrading or wrong. In their temple, they called it a form of sacred prostitution. Egypt has a different role for women than Mesopotamia. God’s Amun Wife was a position of importance in the religion. God’s Women were women of high status who assisted in the ceremonies of the high-priest and took care of the gods. As time went on, their position grew. In the Third Intermediate Period (between 1069 and 525 BCE), Amun’s God’s Woman was a powerful woman who ruled Upper Egypt.

Interesting to me was the Egyptian philosophy that states women cannot tempt or seduce men sexually. For this reason, they believe that marriage stability is important for a healthy community. Thus, it is in everyone’s interest to stay together. Egyptians deeply believed that life on earth was a part of a journey to eternity and that people should make their partner’s life, marriage included, worthwhile. I now agree completely with how the Egyptians view marriage and their relationship to each other. In ancient Egypt, women played a very similar role to those in modern society. Today’s women are married and have children. She can become a mother who works or is a stay-at-home mom. A woman has the right to choose her husband and can divorce. Women can decide whether to start a family or not with their husband. Women can work in a job that is dominated by men, such as the military. Egypt has left a large mark on our culture. Mesopotamia had a similar influence. Egypt and Mesopotamia both became major civilizations between 3500-3000 BCE. It was the first time that humans settled down to farm instead of hunting animals for food. Agriculture was the center of their civilization. They were based in nature and worshipped many deities. Social class structure included: ruling, middle, lower, and slave classes. The majority of women in Mesopotamia lived as slaves and were of lower class because their husbands treated them badly. My opinion is that the middle and upper class did not mean much because women were treated badly by their husbands. My opinion is that women are only treated with respect when they become priestesses or gods. Mesopotamian women value gods and priestesses more than ordinary women. To me, the status of a goddess or priestess is all that differentiates them from ordinary women. Egyptian women have a higher level of independence, value, and respect than Mesopotamian woman. Christianity changed marriage and how women and men should behave.


  • marcosnguyen

    Marcos Nguyen is a 29-year-old blogger and teacher from Houston, Texas. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, where he studied education and psychology. Marcos has been blogging since 2009, and he specializes in writing about education and parenting. He currently teaches middle school social studies and language arts.