Ancient Mesopotamians were among the first peoples in recorded history to join in what modern man would recognize as marriage. At least 2,300 years before the birth of Christ, Mesopotamians were entering into unions broadly consonant with the committed, dyadic, heterosexual framework that has defined the institution for nearly four and a half millennia.
To be sure, there were differences between Mesopotamian marriages and modern ones. Coercion was often involved, as women were frequently given into marriage by their father; polygamy, while exceptional, was tolerated in Sumerian society. The historian Karen Rhea Nemet-Nejat nevertheless insists that most Sumerian spouses “fell deeply …
This article appears as “Obergefell at Five” in the August 24, 2020, print edition of National Review.
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