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Demotic “Marriage” Papyrus (detail)

Demotic “Marriage” Papyrus (detail)

A highly cursive script called Demotic was used from Dynasty 26 (ca. 650 BCE) to the fifth century CE. Because it generally replaced hieratic for everyday purposes, the Greeks referred to it as demotika, or “[script] of the people.” During the period that Demotic was employed, hieroglyphs were still used for formal inscriptions in temples and tombs, and hieratic was used for many religious texts. This text is one of the earliest known examples in Demotic script of what is commonly referred to as a “marriage contract,” a legal document that specified both spouses’ property rights. Egypt was among the rare cultures in the ancient world in which women could inherit, hold, and transfer property separately from their husbands. This text details the holdings of the husband and the disposition of his property among children who may be born to him by his wife, Peset, and also directly to his wife in case of divorce.

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