Sunday, October 30, 2016

Ancient Egyptian Adoption

     Several years ago I did some posts (between Feb. 24, 2009 and Mar. 25, 2009) on Mesopotamian adoption and specifically how it seemed to sometimes be used as a way to ensure the transfer of property. An adult would pay a fee to be adopted and the adopters would agree to leave certain property to that person after their deaths.

     I recently came across an article by Emily Teeter that indicates that the Egyptians may have done something similar. In an article entitled "Celibacy and Adoption Among God's Wives of Amun and Singers in the Temple of Amun: a Re-examination of the Evidence", Dr. Teeter took a look at the long-standing theory that the God's Wives of Amun would adopt their successors as they were not (it is believed) permitted to have sex. As part of criticism this theory the author provides some interesting information about ancient Egyptian adoption. She mentions an 18th Dynasty papyrus that details the adoption of a woman by her husband as a way of making sure that she received her inheritance over other members of the family. The same woman later adopted some servant children to be her heirs.

     This is an interesting way of ensuring the transfer of a person's effects after their death, but Dr. Teeter does feel that the idea that the God's Wives of Amun were celibate and adopted girls in order to transfer their office to them is not supported by the available evidence.


  1. But was not adoption by the God's Wives of Amun also a way to insure that the daughter of the current pharaoh would go on to become the next God's Wife, as it had become a position more powerful at times than that of the High Priest of Amun himself, thus effectively giving the king control of Thebes upon his daughter's ascendancy?

  2. Hi Dave:

    This is a possible reason indeed. Dr. Teeter's contention was only that celibacy is not why the God's Wife of Amun would adopt a girl.