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In the traditions of a wide variety of peoples from the nomadic Jews and Arabs to the Native American tribes, a beautiful daughter became a valuable asset.In later years, a variation on marriage by purchase united the feudal kingdoms of Europe.As the human species became more mannered and various religious rites began to be observed, young men and women sought to make themselves attractive to non-family members of the opposite sex who resided near them in the same village or series of villages.Rules of exogamy, which denied marriage between persons of the same bloodline, and the laws of endogamy, which prohibited marriage with any persons except those of the same bloodline, arose to define the pool of eligible mates from which young people could choose.Before humankind began to gather in clans and tribes, what passed for courtship was likely a raid on a distant group of humans that resulted in the capture of a woman who was forced to participate against her will in an instant marriage.True courtship practices between the sexes did not exist to any great extent, and feelings of fondness or affection, if they entered into the equation at all, resulted from compatibility extended over a period of time.Many anthropologists and social historians have expressed their views that early humans practiced polygamy (one man with several women in the marriage union) or polyandry (several men with one woman).In either case, quite likely the women involved in the union probably had been captives before they were wives.
Perhaps after a few more centuries had passed, another wise man or woman suggested that the potential bridegroom simply buy the bride without going through all the effort of kidnapping her.
Perhaps even more common than buying a bride was the ancient custom of gaining a wife by working for her father for a certain period of time.
Such an exchange of a prized daughter for an agreed-upon term of labor was practiced among many of the early societies and tribes of America, Africa, and Asia.
Although these marital circumstances may have existed for quite some time among early humans, there are a number of reasons why neither polygamy nor polyandry could have survived as universal or general practices.
For one thing, some societies practiced infanticide, killing primarily female infants, and creating a scarcity of women.