Although marriage undoubtedly existed in ancient Egypt, there is no evidence of any marriage ceremonies, and it may be that a couple merely declared their intention and lived together. It is probable that there was a family celebration of some sort, but no legal or religious notification was necessary. Marriage contracts from the Late Periodhave survived that specify the terms of relationships. Most Egyptian men appear to have had monogamous marriages with one wife at a time, and certainly this state of affairs was the ideal in wisdom literature. Because of the high mortality rate, it is likely that some men and women had additional partners, although evidence for remarriage is not always clearly indicated. Divorce was freely available but was limited by economic and social pressures. A divorced wife or widow was entitled to one-third of the matrimonial property unless guilty of adultery, in which case her financial claims were diminished. Polygamy, although permitted, is rarely attested, except for the king. Total fidelity on the part of men was not realistically expected, but most men appear to have preferred to consort with prostitutes, concubines, or slave girls rather than take a second wife, as this procedure was expensive and might lead to legal disputes. In one known case of a childless couple, the husband fathered children by a slave girl, and the offspring were then adopted by the wife. Aside from the royal family, ancient Egyptians did not marry their sisters. Early Egyptologists were confused by the fact that wives are often referred to as a sister as a term of endearment. The king as a god could marry his sister, although this was not obligatory, and only a few cases of full brother–sister marriage are recorded during the Pharaonic Period, possibly Mentuhotep II and his sister, Nefru; Seqenenre Tao and Ahhotep; and Ahmose I and Ahmose-Nefertari. Others married half sisters, or the identity of the mother of the queen is uncertain. The practice was revived by some of the Ptolemaic kings, beginning with Ptolemy II. Only during the Graeco-Roman Period are brother–sister marriages attested for commoners, and this development seems to have arisen as a means to control family property.
   See also Sex.
Historical Dictionary Of Ancient Egypt by Morris L. Bierbrier

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.

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