Who inherited land in Ancient Egypt?
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!

Who inherited land?

scrap of papyrus with black writing
Land register in demotic writing (200s BC),
now at Duke University

As in other parts of Africa, ancient Egyptian law said that every child in the family should inherit the same amount of land or money when their parents died - both brothers and sisters.

The Egyptians themselves had some problems with this rule. Some families didn't like the idea that girls would take their part of the family farm with them into another family when they got married. So sometimes in ancient Egypt girls married their brothers, to keep the land in the family. Or, a family with no sons might adopt their daughter's husband (who would become her brother), so that he could inherit too.

Women sometimes had trouble enforcing their rights. In one lawsuit, a married woman is suing her brother because he is refusing to give her her fair share of their fathers' property. (Papyrus Brooklyn 35.1446, from the late Middle Kingdom, now in the Brooklyn Museum).

Learn by doing: making papyrus
More about families in ancient Egypt

Bibliography and further reading about families in ancient Egypt:

Everyday Life in Ancient Egypt, by Lionel Casson (revised edition 2001). Not especially for kids, but pretty entertaining reading, and Casson knows what he's talking about.

Private Life in New Kingdom Egypt, by Lynn Meskell (2002). A little more specialized and harder to read.

More about Egyptian families

More about inheritance
More about ancient Egypt
Quatr.us home


Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Check out our new ebook: Short and Simple: Ancient Greek Myths! - just out! Twenty-five easy to read, illustrated stories, from Pandora to Medea, Icarus, and the Trojan Horse (you can read these online as samples). Get it this week for just $14.99, five dollars off the regular price of $19.99.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 24 June, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT