Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, OIM 17481

Demotic "marriage" papyrus
(above left; detail below left)
Late Period, Dynasty 30, year 17 of Nectanebo I (December 365-64 B.C.)
Purchased in Cairo, 1932
Papyrus, pigment
L: 97 1/2 W: 14 1/5 in (230 x 37 cm)

The text is among the earliest known examples in Demotic script of what is commonly referred to as a "marriage contract," a legal document that specified a wife's property rights. The text details the holdings of the husband and the disposition of his property among children who may be born to him by his wife named Peset, and also directly to his wife in the case of divorce. Among the provisions of the endowment are: "There belongs to the children which you will bear to me everything which I possess and that I shall acquire, house, field, courtyard, building plot, male servant, female servant all animals and all title, deed and contract in the world that I possess." If the couple divorces, the woman was promised a certain ration of grain, and amounts of silver "for your yearly sustenance and clothing at whatever dwelling you have preferred."

2002 The University of Chicago