By Peter Conn (auth.)

ISBN-10: 113733391X

ISBN-13: 9781137333919

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1057/9781137333919 28 Adoption: A Brief Social and Cultural History some social advantage to adopted children and adults. And of course, sometimes both. Beyond that, there is evidence that some residents of ancient Mesopotamia used adoption as a commercial stratagem. The archives of Tehip-Tilla, dating from the eighteenth century BCE, document the doings of a real estate mogul, a native of Nuzi who obtained hundreds of deeds through inheritance, purchase, and trade. He also put adoption law ingeniously to use, having himself adopted by a seller, who then gave to Tehip-Tilla the “inheritance” of his land.

Beyond that, the story of Oedipus dramatizes one of mankind’s deepest fears: incest. Whether rooted in instinct or generations of culture, incest has been numbered among the primal taboos in human history. ”20 And Claude Levi-Strauss argued that “the prohibition of incest can be found at the dawn of culture . . ”21 The fear of incest in turn explains the occasional resistance to adoption among many ancient and early modern societies. At least in those cases where a child of unknown parentage is brought into a family, the possibility of sexual relations between closely related persons intrudes itself.

1187–1064 BCE). Written to the scribe Nekhemmut, the letter mixes unfriendly personal barbs with intimate advice: What’s the meaning of your getting into such a bad mood as you are that nobody’s speech can enter your ears as a consequence of your inflated ego? You are not a man since you are unable to make your wives pregnant like your fellowmen. A further matter: you abound in being exceedingly stingy. You give no one anything. As for him who has no children, he adopts an orphan instead to bring him up.

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