Quantcast
Who inherited land in Ancient Egypt?
Quatr.us answers questions
Upgrade /Log in
Options /Log out
Print
About
Africa
Egypt
Mesopotamia
Early Europe
Greece
Rome
China
India
Central Asia
Medieval
Islamic Empire
Native Americans
S./Central America
American History
Biology
Chemistry
Geology
Math
Physics
Weather
Food
Judaism
Christianity
Home

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


Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

Help support Quatr.us!

Quatr.us (formerly "History for Kids") is entirely supported by your generous donations and by our sponsors. Most donors give about $10. Can you give $10 today to keep this site running? Or give $50 to sponsor a page?

February is Black History Month! Check out Quatr.us' pages on African history, including the history of Ancient Egypt, the Queens of Kush, and the Mali Empire. Then in addition to slavery, sugar, and the cotton gin, read about Phillis Wheatley, Onesimus, Denmark Vesey, and Tetteh Quarsie. Or buy Black History Month materials here.