The Impact of Ancient Mesopotamian Culture on The Modern Society

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Words: 1214 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Oct 2, 2020

Words: 1214|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Oct 2, 2020

Ancient Mesopotamia, as scholars consider, is the cradle of civilizations. The huge impact of Mesopotamian civilizations made on the development of mankind and the great path of continuous evolution is undeniable. The practice of many traditions we have today was first established by the first civilizations of Mesopotamia. Undoubtedly, social relationships play a vast role in our daily life and it is important to be acquainted with and analyze the early emergence of specific behaviors. By comparing ancient Mesopotamian civilizations and modern habits, among which the role of women, children and family life should be separately mentioned, we can see several similarities, leading us to conclude Mesopotamian culture left a trace behind which is still in power. There are certain issues regarding how women are perceived, marriage and divorce concepts, relationships with children and views on adoption that influence our decisions today and for this reason by setting side by side contemporary customs and classical Mesopotamian traditions we have a chance to resolve shortcomings.

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Like many other civilizations, ancient Mesopotamian civilizations were patriarchal. This resulted in the limited rights of women compared to their male counterparts. The expected roles of women were to marry, raise children, and look after the house. Women were mainly depended on their husbands but some women such as priestesses had more rights and freedom, the ability to own a part of property inherited from family. Women could possess property in case of her children were not of age when their father passed away. Starting from early teen ages girls were married to usually older men chosen by their fathers. The marriage process included many stages, among which dowry and performance of symbolic actions are highlighted. Dowry- gifts to newlyweds from parents of both sides, mostly by a bride’s family, consisted of various types of goods, jewelry, furniture, and for wealthy families even land. To celebrate marriage people held ceremonies in which the groom had to unveil the bride. The number of days of celebration depended on the financial situation of families. The property of a family was considered important in ancient Mesopotamia. Due to this reason, when the groom died a bride could marry his brother to keep property within the family. Mesopotamian marriages usually were monogamous, however, if a couple had no child men could marry for the second time, nonetheless, the groom had to support his first wife.

It is evident that some actions and duties of women have been in use lately and still nowadays. It is explicit that the main obligations of women remain unchanged. Age limit and the process of selecting groom by parents had been used until lately. Today this practice is considerably reduced and the majority of the girls have their right to choose the man they want to marry. There are still gifts included in the marriage similar to dowry but usually gifted to the bride. In modern world wedding ceremonies take place usually for a day and unveiling the bride as a part of a ceremony is relatively favored. Unlike ancient Mesopotamians, people now do not legally marry more than one person at a time and marriage within the family is not practiced anymore.

Based on the records, we can assume that the divorce process was considerably straightforward. Men had to orally and symbolically end the relationship. However, as divorce was prone to social criticism couples usually avoided it. Even for males, divorce was not recommended; in some situations, they could face a serious penalty. It was negative for a woman to commence divorce unless she had serious reasons to do so. If successful, then she could return to her paternal home and if her husband afforded he could have provided financial support. Divorce did not generally occur when a couple had problems with infertility as the provision of surrogate mothers was practiced. Many scholars credit the Mesopotamian civilizations for the early practices of surrogacy. Today, the attitude toward divorce, including the case of women being the initiators, remains not much changed, especially in Eastern societies. The procedure of divorce now is executed under the law. Moreover, it is up to a couple’s decision about whether to terminate the marriage or not regarding the infertility problem. The habit of involving a surrogate mother to deal with the situation is quite widespread and continues to be beneficial for people.

Regarding the family concept in ancient Mesopotamia, the father was the head of the family. Children were an inseparable part of a family and generally, parents preferred to have a son to inherit a family property in the future. Nevertheless, in some cases, usually, daughters could also inherit depending on the choice of the father when dividing his wealth. Although children were part of a family, they could be sold as slaves to pay debts of family. Another way of abandoning children, especially disabled newborns which were thought of as evil signs, was leaving them to die. This was more common for girls as they did not have a chance to inherit and thus, were viewed as not of use. However, others could save and adopt these babies. Adoption took place when there was no son to be bequeathed to. Besides infants, older children also had a right to be adopted. Moreover, unmarried women were able to adopt a daughter to look after them regardless of the daughter’s decision about marriage. The comparison of ancient times with the present indicates the father has been viewed as the chief person in a family. Even though many parents on average do not have special preferences about the sex of their child, it is still experienced to be inclined to have a son in their family. As it is noticeable, the practice of selling children is not in use and there exist strict regulations on this issue. Since modern communities are distant from superstitions, interpreting disability and other conditions as bad luck seems irrelevant. Nowadays, parents have a right to legally give their children to foster care and other forms of care centers. I believe single adults and couples who adopt children in these times do not only think about the inheritance aspect. As values of societies develop and alter, the reasons for adoption shift from personal needs to societal and psychological needs. If in ancient Mesopotamia children were adopted to be heirs and to look after the elders, today parents want to give those children love, education, and make them beneficial for the society in general.

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Called the “Fertile Crescent”, development in every sphere in the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia hugely contributed to our community. Though our society today is much more advanced and technological, the base of many actions and concepts originate from classical cultures. The division between male and female roles is somewhat similar in ancient societies and that of the modern world. Therefore, it is essential to understand the reason for certain actions and find proper ways of addressing problems that lasted for centuries. Customs of marriage, divorce, family environment started from the early stages of history and still grow. In conclusion, many traditions we have today lasting for several centuries come from ancient Mesopotamia. By comparing our daily life, societies can reduce negative tendencies, evolve by regularly comparing their prosperity, and achieve the best version of an ideal society.

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The Impact Of Ancient Mesopotamian Culture On The Modern Society. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 11, 2023, from
“The Impact Of Ancient Mesopotamian Culture On The Modern Society.” GradesFixer, 10 Oct. 2020,
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