Towards a Typology of Old Babylonian Adoption Recordings

  • Susandra J. van Wyk North-West University
Keywords: Old Babylonia, Adoption, Typology, Ancient Law, Old Babylonian family, Old Babylonian Law


An Old Babylonian (OB) adoption agreement created an artificial family bond with reciprocal benefits and obligations by creating fictitious ties between the adoptee and the adoptive family. However, our interpretation of the OB adoption is limited to the scribe’s adaptation of the oral adoption agreement in an abridged record. Typology, as a method, can simplify the study of Old Babylonian adoptions gleaned directly or indirectly from the recorded adaptation of the adoption agreement. I present a typology that is a hybrid of Hilprecht’s (1909, 32), Stone’s (1991, 3–6) and Obermark’s (1992, 29, 39–41ff.) typologies. My typology underpins the identification of the requisites distinguishing an adoption as such, in highlighting the adoption’s characteristics, including its ultimate purpose. It also provides an outline of the majority arrangements and supplementary reciprocal obligations and/or benefits that can be reflected in a written abridged format—custom-made by the involved family members to suit their circumstances, obligations and needs.

Author Biography

Susandra J. van Wyk, North-West University

Post-doctoral fellow

Faculty of Humanities, School of Basic Sciences