Life in Ancient Persia
Key Questions
 What
was the family law in Ancient
Persia?
 Where did people live in Ancient
Persia?
 What was the role of women in
Ancient Persia?
Family Law in Ancient Persia
Structure of the Persian family
Master of the household = Father and
this was seconded by his wife.
Members of the family were bound by
a highly developed set of legal
prescriptions. There were established
rules and restrictions.
Rights and obligations within the household
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The master of the household was to support his
wife as long as she lived, his daughters until they
married and his sons until they come of age.
After the death of the master, the most
authoritative member of the family was guardian
(stur) who was responsible for the care of women
and the protection of minors.
If a stur was not appointed it was the duty of the
citizens to care for the family.
Persian homes
Where did people live in Ancient Persia?
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The Persians were nomadic people and so at the
beginning of the Achaemenid period, many still
followed their traditional way of life and lived in
tents made from animal skins and would be
transported by horse, donkey or camel.
Access to raw materials and weather patterns
encouraged Persians to adopt and adapt the
styles of buildings to that of their middle eastern
neighbours.
Raw materials used for building
included: brick, stone and timber
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Bitumen occurs in the Middle and Near East in
Iran and is only available in this region. It was
used as an adhesive and helped to bind bricks.
During the Achaemenid empire, houses were two
storey, rectangular structure divided into two or
more separate living quarters. Access to the top
floor could be via stairs or a ladder.
This housed one or more extended families in
separate living quarters.
It would be constructed of unbaked mud bricks,
possibly on a foundation of fired bricks or stone.
The roof consisted of whole and split timber
beams covered with reed matting, a layer of lime
and then a thick layer of mud.
Persian homes are characterised by the inclusion
of landscaped courtyards and high stone or brick
walls surrounding the homes. Rose gardens,
shade trees or food crops, such as citrus or
pistachio trees would be a common inclusion.
Water, ponds and fountains were also a Persian
feature.
Women in Ancient
Persia
What was the role of women in
Ancient Persia?
 Had
a high level of socio-economic
status
 Made up over 60% of the population
 They were powerful women
 Women had to be obedient to their
husbands and lord and master but
this did not result in a loss of
individuality or personality.
 Women
were described in three
different terms – mutu, irti and
duksis
 Mutu = ordinary non –royal women
 Irti = unmarried members of the
royal family
 Duksis = married women of royalty
 Women
of the royal household
travelled extensively and often
administered their estates.
 The Queen and her ladies in waiting
played polo against the emperor and
his courtiers.
 Non-royals and ordinary women
received rations depending on their
skill and level of responsibility in the
workplace.
 The
highest ranking female worker
was called arashshara (great chief).
They were employed in different
areas and managed large groups of
women and children and sometimes
men. They received high rations of
wine and grain exceeding even the
males in their group.
 Pregnant women also received
higher rations as did women with
newborn children for one month after
the birth.
 It
is rumoured that Cyrus the Great
established the custom of covering
women to protect their chastity. The
veil was passed down through the
ages.
Discussion
What do you think about the role
of women in Persian society?
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What was life like for men and women in Ancient Persia?