“Ho paura di essere consegnata in dono!” Aspetti della schiavitù femminile nell’antica Mesopotamia

Maria Vittoria Tonietti


Freedom in Ancient Near East was a relative, not an absolute state, as the ambiguity of the term for “slave” in all the region’s languages illustrates. Slavery is widely attested in Ancient Mesopotamia even if it had not here the relevance it had in Roman society. A major distinction was made between foreigners, enslaved through capture in war, kidnapping or force, and natives, forced in slavery mostly by debt or famine. While in the first case slavery was a permanent chattel condition, with little succour from the local legal system, in the second case it was protected by authorities. In law, in fact, slavery was for citizens a voluntary and temporary condition. A natural conflict existed between family law, which applied to slaves as persons, and property law, which applied to slaves as chattels. It is particularly in this field that major and interesting differences between male and female slavery existed.

Keywords: schiavitù, Mesopotamia, schiavitù per debito, diritto di famiglia, proprietà (leggi riguardanti la); slavery, Mesopotamia, debt-slavery, family law, property law.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13128/SDD-8441

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