chapter  2
14 Pages

The institutional perspective

Bureaucracy and economy: the palace, temple and beyond
WithIlan Peled

This chapter examines two interrelated spheres: the economy at large and the two main socioeconomic institutions in the ancient world, the palace and the temple. In examining economy and gender, the topics treated are salaries and wages, and gender dynamics in debt-slavery. In assessing the palace and the temple, the issues examined are adoption by palace personnel, women in the religious and cultic systems and the function of eunuchs in palace bureaucracy. A set of regulations in the Laws of Hammurabi enforced rules of adoption for two types of palace personnel: the male girseqû and the female sekretu, who could not – or were not allowed to – have biological progeny. The girseqû may have been a eunuch, and so was the ša rēši/lú-sag, another palace attendant attested in the Assyrian and Hittite legal sources. Ancient Near Eastern law regulated some of the activities of several female cult personnel, mostly within the economic sphere. No parallel statutes were issued for male cult attendants, which emphasizes the need to legally control and regulate women’s economic activities but not men’s.