Soon after a child was born, he or she received a name. In those homes that could afford it, the infant was nursed for twoormoreyearsbyawetnurse.Inthe case of a poor family in which the mother could not produce milk, the baby usually died. At home, the infant was placed in a basket lined with linen; outside the house, the mother or wet nurse carried it in a linen sling.
   Very little is known about child-rearing practices and societal views of children in ancient Mesopotamia. That children played with toys, like their counterparts in most other cultures, is evident from a number of toys that have survived. These include terra-cotta rattles for babies; small slingshots and bows and miniature chariots, wagons, and ships for young boys; dolls and miniature furniture for young girls; and balls, hoops, and jump ropes for both boys and girls. In rural areas of Egypt and other parts of the ancient world, children helped with agricultural work. And this was undoubtedly the case in Mesopotamia, too, though the average age at which this began is uncertain.
   More is specifically known about adopting children in Mesopotamia. The main reason for adoption was to ensure that parents had someone to look after them in their old age. In fact, in many places an adopted son was required by law to bury and mourn his adoptive parents. The simplest form of adoption was to rescue an infant who had been abandoned. But older children could be adopted by paying a fee to reimburse the costs of raising the child up to that point and by signing a contract with someone who was willing to give up a child. A surviving adoption contract shows that the adoptive parents were expected to provide the child with an inheritance, no matter how many children they already had. Slaves could be freed and then adopted. And it was permissible for an unmarried woman to adopt a daughter and thereby become a single mother.
   See also: childbirth; education; women

Ancient Mesopotamia dictioary. . 2015.

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