- Babylonian term for a group or institution of womenduring the Old Babylonian period who lived in special quarters known as gagum(the locked house). The best-known nadituwomen were those serving at the temple of the sun god Shamash at Sippar due to the voluminous archives that have been discovered at the local gagum. The etymology of the word nadituis not very clear; translations such as “barren” or “fallow” have been proposed. It appears that these women lived in relative seclusion (the laws of Hammurabi are especially severe against them visiting taverns) and that they were not permitted to have children. Married naditu could provide their husband with a secondary wife to father progeny. They were given a dowry upon their entrance to the institution that they were free to administer at their discretion. The surviving business documents show that naditu women came from affluent families, including royal daughters, and that they were actively engaged in business ventures, such as trade enterprises, or indeed the ownership of profitable taverns. It was expected that their dowry returned to their paternal families after their death, but some women preferred to adopt younger naditu in order to secure support in their old age. As a result of their childlessness and isolation, the life expectancy of naditu was considerably higher than that of ordinary women of the period. Little is known about the cultic duties of the naditu. They were expected to contribute to the daily sacrifices, appear at certain cult services, and, according to some surviving letters, their main function was to pray for the well-being of the relatives. The main focus of their devotion was not Shamash but his spouse Aya. The institution did not survive after the Old Babylonian period but was revived briefly by the Neo-Babylonian king Nabonidus.
Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. EdwART. 2012.
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