Just like modern societies, ancient civilizations were established politically, socially, and economically and had their cultures or way of life. Three remarkable ancient civilizations inclusive of Ancient Rome, Ancient West African societies, and Ancient Egypt are widely known for their expansive and composed cultures. Therefore, viewing their culture would entail observing their customs and social behaviors. Besides, to understand these cultures, their similarities, and differences, it would be necessary to observe them in the aspect of marriage. In all societies, marriage was an essential cultural activity, but it was undertaken in different ways. While in ancient Egypt, Ancient West African, and Ancient Rome civilizations marriages were foundations for making families, how they were conducted and arranged differed accordingly.
The culture of Ancient Egypt can be traced back to prehistoric times. The civilization goes back to more than 7,000 years ago, and their earliest inscriptions are believed to have been jotted down 5200 years ago during the time of the early rulers of Egypt (Jarus 1). The civilization was well-established politically and had about thirty dynasties before the Egyptian rule was taken over by the Romans. The civilization was located in North-Eastern African and flourished along the Nile ("The Geography Of Ancient Egypt" n.p.). Most of it today is present-day Egypt. Marriage in Ancient Egypt was considered an important step since the family was the most valuable social institution. Men would get married between the ages of 16 and 20 while women would get married as early as 13 years or immediately after puberty. Engagement ceremonies would be prepared before the actual marriage, where the two families would meet and discuss. Men and women were almost equal in marriage, and both could own property even when married (Mark 1). Certain practices that were abhorred in other civilizations, such as incest, were upheld in Ancient Egyptian marriages. Also, marrying several wives was allowed in this culture.
Unlike Ancient Egypt civilization, the West African Civilization was composed of several influential empires that shared ideals and beliefs. Among the empires was the Kingdom of Kush, the land of Punt, Carthage, the Kingdom of Aksum, the Mali and Songhai empires, and Great Zimbabwe. This civilization is believed to have lasted between 1240-1645 CE (Andrews n.p.). It also extended across the wide area of West African nations today. Marriage was believed to have been sacred as it was induced by the creator. It was viewed as a way to make children and unite their communities. Traditional marriage was not complete without dowry, which was taken to the family of the woman. Many other celebrations that marked marriage were also witnessed (Lisapo n.p). Though monogamy was majorly practiced, the elites were allowed to marry more than one woman as it was a sign of their stature and command for respect.
Ancient Roman civilization is also a remarkable society that is believed to have been influenced by Greek culture. It was built on seven hills at the banks of the Tiber River. It was located a the center of the Italian peninsula. The civilization covered the Lazio region ("Roman Geography/Region/Location," n.p.). The empire had developed and won many conquests, including against Greeks who were sailors. By the time that the empire collapsed in 476 A.D., it had influenced culture along the entire region, including that of marriage. In Roman society, marriages were more arranged and official. Both parties had to agree, and parents from both sides had to consent, after which the marriage contract was drawn up and signed ("Roman Marriage," n.p.). The woman after the wedding was expected to take care of the family, feed and educate her children, and was under full leadership of her husband.
The three civilizations sprung up in different parts of the world. They are similar in that they had systems of leadership and shared social beliefs where one of the most pertinent was marriage. In all of them, it was an affair between a man and a woman, so only heterosexual marriages were allowed. Also, in all, marriages could happen at tender ages. However, differences emerge in the fact that in West Africa and Egypt, men were in charge of their families while in Rome, the woman would take their charge under the leadership of her husband. Also, in Egypt, dowry was not much considered while in Ancient Egypt and West Africa, it was regarded as a hefty determinant. Besides, in Rome, marriages were formal and officially took place while in West Africa and Egypt, they were informal ("Roman Marriage" n.p.). Regardless, all the civilizations considered marriage as a necessary societal undertaking.
Before conducting the research, I used to think that these civilizations were informal, and activities such as marriage did not take place under any preferred way. At the end of the research, however, I learned that these civilizations were discreet and even determined how pertinent activities such as marriage would take place. The civilizations enabled me to relate to how different societies conduct marriages differently, and the roles of husbands and wives are different. Also, I have realized that they shared a lot in social and political matters. Thus, the minute differences between the three civilizations will help me believe that the culture of every person needs to be respected as it is as important to them, similar to mine.
"Roman Geography/Region/Location". Ancient Roman Civilization, 2020, https://galligan18.weebly.com/roman-geographyregionlocation.html.
"Roman Marriage." Unrv.Com, 2020, https://www.unrv.com/culture/roman-marriage.php"The Geography Of Ancient Egypt." Ancient-Egypt-Online.Com, 2019, https://www.ancient-egypt-online.com/ancient-egyptian-geography.html. Accessed 24 Jan 2020.
Andrews, Evan. "7 Influential African Empires". HISTORY, 2017, https://www.history.com/news/7-influential-african-empires.
Jarus, Owen. Ancient Egypt: A Brief History. 2016, https://www.livescience.com/55578-egyptian-civilization.html. Accessed 24 Jan 2020.
Lisapo ya Kama. The Foundations Of Marriage In Africa. 2018, http://en.lisapoyakama.org/the-african-couple-the-african-marriage/.
Mark, Joshua. "Love, Sex, And Marriage In Ancient Egypt." Ancient History Encyclopedia, 2016, https://www.ancient.eu/article/934/love-sex-and-marriage-in-ancient-egypt/. Accessed 24 Jan 2020.
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