oa Fundamina : A Journal of Legal History - Old Babylonian family division agreement from a deceased estate - analysis of its practical and theoretical mechanisms

Volume 19, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1021-545X
  • E-ISSN: 2411-7870



The family division agreement in a deceased estate is part of a vast old Babylonian legal corpus. It functions as a simple, straightforward agreement between family members. However, the different aspects of the agreement are not fully understood by today's scholars. This article offers some reflection on this specific agreement: the family division agreement in a deceased estate as a complex legal notion. In the article special attention is paid to what this agreement entails by explaining its practical and theoretical mechanisms. Reasons are given for categorising this agreement as a family division agreement deriving from a deceased estate in contrast with other types of division agreements from different estates. For practical reasons the different evolutionary stages in an estate are outlined. In relation to the theoretical mechanisms of the agreement, the relevance and meaning of recordings on objects in ancient Mesopotamia are discussed, with special reference to old Babylonian division agreements. In essence this agreement, as used in ancient Babylonian life, serves as a successful, timeless, estate administration mechanism and tool, to obviate any undesirable consequences of co-ownership of bequeathed property in the old Babylonian city-states.

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