I've been working on a setting for a while that is meant to be based on Bronze Age societies, but I noticed that simply having Bronze Age props like weapons and architecture isn't doing the job of bringing across. So I have decided to more properly work out a detailed culture that covers how people actually live. I think a lot of this might never directly come up in the stories I have in mind, but even just hinting at them indirectly from time might help making the world feel more ancient and different. Stuff like agriculture, economy, and trade, legal system, and so on. One really fundamental aspect is family organization, and I'm hoping I could get some help with this. From my understanding of pre-monetary and early monetary Bronze Age culture, there was not really a concept of personal property as economics are concerned, but communal property. Obviously it's your shirt and your comb, but fields, animals, buildings, and common tools did not have a singular owner but were the property of a family. The head of the family can make transactions of land, animals, grain, and so on on behalf of the family as its legal representative to outsiders, but is not the sole owner. You might have a small family of simple subsistence farmers with only eight people, or a royal palace with dozens of noble family members and thousands of employed or enslaved servants, but the principle remains more or less the same. This might not be quite historically accurate, but I think its a good enough approximation for a fictional culture. Where I am from, it was customary that the oldest son inherited everything and all his younger brothers would effectively be servants in his family. In many other cultures it was common that all possessions are split between all the sons who then form their own families. Both have their drawbacks. If the oldest inherits everything, there's incentive for the younger brothers to see that he doesn't live long enough to inherit anything. If everything gets split, property borders get constantly redrawn and you get lots of small families instead of stable big estates. While split inheritance seems to have been common in the Bronze Age, the exact distribution can get super messy and the Biblical stories of Jacob and his brother and sons is all about that. Since this is not really the focus of my story ideas and I want the same system to apply to farms and kingdoms, I am going with the simpler single inheritance. The advantage is that economically speaking, we're not dealing with any individuals but kin groups. When the head of the group dies, another family member gets that position and other than personal items, no property is changing hands. Also no problem with the support of orphaned children and the old, because they are members of the family and they get food, clothing, care, and housing from the shared communal pool. But now here is my main big question: How does marriage work? Since these families are in the size of a few dozen at most, marriage would have to be exogamous, that is you have to marry someone outside of your family. Since I want the culture to have flexible gender roles, either partner could join the family of the other and become part of that household. The main purpose and function of the institution of marriage is to clear up the support for widows, orphans, divorced women, and the old. Simply sending women back to their father or brother is often not desirable and would be economically impossible for families with many daughters and few sons. So to level out the burden of supporting dependents various forms of the exchange of wealth between families have been developed. And as someone in the western world in the 21st century where this is covered by the welfare state, I don't really understand how any of that works. So for simplicity's sake, let's say a man from Family A marries a women from Family B, who then moves into the household of Family A. Potentially they might get divorced at some point or the husband dies and the woman would rather go back to live with Family B. If she's still young and can work, no problem for Family B. But suppose she's very old at that point or has a four very young children and Family B has hit hard times, they really wouldn't be happy to take her back. And then we have a big problem. What exchange of wealth would take between the families at the wedding and when the woman returns to Family B? One aspect that would be critical is that it must make no difference whether the woman gets divorced or dies. There must be no profit in your wife dying instead of divorcing her. That's actually a real problem in India. But with taken into account, what is the typical practice for such a situation in preindustrial societies?