Custody of Children in Late Bronze Age Syria in the Light of Documents from Emar
Emar, a Syrian town situated on the bend of the Euphrates, thrived in the Late Bronze Age. Still, it was an era when life was frequently cut short by diseases, famine, and war, and men often died before their children could grow up. And yet, evidence for guardianship of such children is scarce. Minors are clearly mentioned in few documents, especially testaments, which do not give us much detail. Probably in a normal situation, the widow would take over the guardianship of her children or step-children, without any institutional intervention. Only in a problematic case (foreseen conflict, no wife able to fulfil guardian’s duties) the patriarch would settle the question in his will, with a lot of freedom concerning the person of the guardian as well as their rights and obligations. What was not mentioned would be subject to customary law. If the widow could not become guardian, this duty would fall to older siblings or paternal uncles of the child. The article aims at reconstructing the main characteristics of guardianship as mirrored in documents of legal practice.
Legal Documents in Ancient Societies VI. Ancient Guardianship: Legal Incapacities in the Ancient World
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Lena Fijałkowska, "Custody of Children in Late Bronze Age Syria in the Light of Documents from Emar", in "Legal Documents in Ancient Societies VI. Ancient Guardianship: Legal Incapacities in the Ancient World", Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2017, pp. 31-43
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