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Bayliss, D. K. M. (1971) Ancestry and descent in Mesopotamia from the Old Babylonian to the Neo-Assyrian Period. MPhil thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00029750

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Abstract

This thesis is a study of the institutions and concepts of recruitment and transmission by kinship groups in ancient Mesopotamia from C. 2,000 B.C. to C. 600 B.C. Chapter I examines the evidence of kinship relations and the structure of households, and draws the conclusion that extended households existed, and may even have been typical, at least in the MA period, whereas lineage groups were never typical in Mesopotamia. Evidence points to the authoritarian role of the father as household head and the crucial importance of the relationship between father and son. Daughters, however, were only temporary members of the kinship group, leaving it on marriage. In Chapter II systems of inheritance and succession are examined. At all periods control of property, especially land, lay with men, and deviations from the norm of father- to-son succession to both property and roles were rare. The Chapter also shows the supplementary methods of recruitment, especially adoption. The remainder of the thesis examines Mesopotamian concepts of the relationship between descendants and ancestors. The desire for descendants to perpetuate individual identity was apparently widespread, but it would appear that only in the royal family was the memory of ancestors preserved for more than a few generations, whether by written records or by the practice of ancestor worship. The last Chapter deals with lineage as a concept. Birth was not the exclusive measure of status in Mesopotamian society, but was frequently used to maintain status, especially by NA kings. Among commoners descent was less important, but its importance increased in the course of history, at least in Babylonia, as shown by the development of ancestral names. An Appendix of notes on kinship terminology and a Glossary of relevant terms are added.

Item Type: Theses (MPhil)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00029750
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:28
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/29750

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