Would you care to "PPOR?" (One good turn deserves another, right? ) Certainly. Unlike your previous refusal to PPOR, I am up to the task. The oldest manuscripts/texts/scrolls/tablets/etc., that I am aware of, referencing marriage are of a religious or mythological nature, and those present a different incipient officiation of marriage under the auspices of a divine bestowal...allegedly as inferred from those materials from the very beginning of history. If you've some other source, by all means present it, I'd like very much to investigate it. Certainly. For starters, read the following: -Levinson, D. (ed.), Encyclopedia of marriage and the family (New York-London, 1995), 2 vol. -Reynolds, Philip Lyndon, Marriage in the Western church: the christianization of marriage during the patristic and early medieval periods (Leiden, 1994). -Shorter, E., The making of the modern family (New York, 1975). -Anderson, Michael, Approaches to the history of the Western family, 1500-1914 (Cambridge, 1995, orig. publ.: London, 1980). -Cartlidge, Neil, Medieval marriage: literary approaches, 1100-1300 (Cambridge, 1997). While you're waiting for those books, here are some weblinks: History of Marriage "There appeared to be many marriages taking place without witness or ceremony in the 1500's. The Council of Trent was so disturbed by this, that they decreed in 1563 that marriages should be celebrated in the presence of a priest and at least two witnesses. Marriage took on a new role of saving men and women from being sinful, and of procreation. Love wasn't a necessary ingredient for marriage during this era." Women and Marriage in Ancient Rome "The individualistic conception of matrimony and of the family attained by our civilization was alien to the Roman mind, which conceived of these from an essentially political and social point of view. The purpose of marriage was, so to speak, exterior to the pair. As untouched by any spark of the metaphysical spirit as he was unyielding--at least in action--to every suggestion of the philosophic; preoccupied only in enlarging and consolidating the state of which he was master, the Roman aristocrat never regarded matrimony and the family, just as he never regarded religion and law, as other than instruments for political domination, as means for increasing and establishing the power of every great family, and by family affiliations to strengthen the association of the aristocracy, already bound together by political interest." Kinship Terminology of the Middle Ages "A legal marriage was one where a series of specific rites were performed and payments were exchanged between kindreds. The usual legal series was: a betrothal agreement between families; betrothal feast; marriage within a specified time;marriage before witnesses; and an exchange of dower, dowry, and morningafter gift. (Frank 474-484)" That should be good enough to get you started. There is a wealth of information out there. If your Sociology and anthropology teachers did not give you this information, you should probably ask for your tuition check back. A cursory study of pre-christian human history yields a plethora on the subject, especially in the Mediterranean region.