Title: Connected through Marriage: A Social History of Marriage in Mesopotamia (c. 934–141 BCE)
University: University of Helsinki
Supervisors: Prof. Saana Svärd, Dr Jason Silverman, Prof. Caroline Waerzeggers
This dissertation examines the historical development of marriage as an adaptive and responsive social institution in first millennium BCE Mesopotamia (c. 934-141 BCE). Marriage was a major life-changing event, regulated by laws and customs, entailing changes in people’s legal, social, economic statuses, roles and responsibilities. Important recent social historical studies on marriage are Waerzeggers 2020 (JANEH 7/2) who looked into the marriage practices of the elite and non-elite families in Babylonia and Still 2019 (CHANE 103, Brill) who explored the marriage practices of the Borsippean priests. This dissertation takes it a step further by examining the social identities of the men, women and children directly or indirectly involved in or connected to a marriage in the empires of the Assyrians, Chaldeans/Babylonians, the Persians and Macedonians/Seleucids.
I apply approaches from both digital humanities and social sciences to explore the relationships that are shaped, expanded or strengthened through marriage and what these sets of human actions and interactions can tell us about the social organization of first millennium Mesopotamian societies. I use software specifically designed within kinship studies to build a genealogical database that will be published open-access. The database will provide an overview of the marriages in different social strata and population groups attested in the cuneiform clay tablets. The database not only generates family trees, but also matrimonial circuits and kinship networks. Although the cuneiform sources constitute the main, primary sources of this study, I will also look into archaeological features (burials), structures (houses) and artefacts (jewellery, figurines, etc.) as well as visual imagery (seals, reliefs, etc.). I hope to assess if and how marriage or married life is visible in the archaeological record and the art of the first millennium BCE Mesopotamia (seals, reliefs, etc.) and what it can tell us about kinship groups, marriage and social organization.
Keywords: Marriage, Family, Kinship, Social History, Kinship Network Analysis, Assyria, Babylonia, Cuneiform Tablets, Archaeology, Neo-Assyrian period, Neo-Babylonian period, Achaemenid period, Hellenistic period