Women Involved in Daily Management in Achaemenid Babylonia

Watai, Yoko. 2023. Women Involved in Daily Management in Achaemenid Babylonia: The Cases of Rē’indu and Andiya. In: icole Maria Brisch and Fumi Karahashi (eds.), Women and Religion in the Ancient Near East and Asia, 63-79. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter.

Babylonia from the seventh to the fourth century BCE, in the Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid periods, has provided us with an abundance of cuneiform tablets: according to the estimate of M. Jursa (2005: 1 and 2010: 6), more than 16,000 legal or administrative documents have been published, with tens of thousands of unpublished texts housed in museum collections around the world. Most of these documents deal with everyday practical matters, and can be classified as economic texts, familial documents (marriage contracts, documents of division of succession and of transfer of properties, testaments, etc.), administrative records, and letters, mostly drafted in the “long sixth century” (Jursa 2010: 4–5) that lasted about 140 years between the fall of the NeoAssyrian Empire (620 BCE) and the “end of archives” in the second year of Xerxes (484 BCE). Although far fewer women appear in these texts than men, we estimate that at least several thousand women are mentioned. Most of them were inhabitants of Babylonian cities like Babylon, Borsippa, Uruk, and Sippar, and they represent various social strata: women of free status from urban families, slaves, and oblates at temples. The corpus constitutes, therefore, a good basis for discussing the role, status, situation, and activities of women in the social, economic, and familial frameworks.