Mesopotamian Social System

Mesopotamian civilisation like any other society had a definite social structure. Mesopotamians did not have a perfectly egalitarian society. There were both powerful and the powerless class, the rich and the poor. The temple and the palace were the prominent social institutions of the time.

King was the ruler of the land. Kings were believed to have possessed divine powers. King had the duties of ensuring the welfare of the people and securing their life and property. King also had the duty of taking care of the temple because it was the household of god.

Government officials, nobles and priests were the top in the hierarchy. Merchants, artisans, labourers, craftsmen and farmers constituted the second level of the hierarchy. The prisoners of war, the slaves were in the bottom of the social ladder. Commoners were the free citizens of the country protected by law.

The priests were one of the most powerful classes. They were to please the gods and prevent the masses from indulging in activities unpleasant to gods. They were the healers. Priests generally shaved their heads. They were wore cloaks made from sheep wool to keep warm in winter.

The rich led a luxurious life. The general public was hardworking and comfortable with their way of life. Social mobility was possible. There were no rigid rules of following the paternal occupation.

Slavery existed in ancient Mesopotamia. Usually, the prisoners of war were brought into the city and converted into slaves. They did not have any rights as normal citizens of the land. They were bought and sold, which is evident from numerous trade documents. A male slave was called a mountain boy and a female slave a mountain girl.