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Ancient Civilizations

Life and Society in Mesopotamia

Society at Mesopotamia was strictly hierarchically organized. Artificial irrigation was the only method to create enough food but it took better company than in Egypt in which the yearly Nile flood was controlled by economically and small independent communities. Heating in Mesopotamia has been severer than in Egypt, although the Tigris had considerably deeper flow compared to Nile making structure of the stations considerably more challenging and complex. Very hard was also to forecast the floods since they depended on snow melting Anatolia and could happen in the time of ripening plants in March or even April so that the floodwater had to be hauled up. Besides adverse flood time that the floodwater returned into the river flow before the summertime in June. Because of this, the areas needed to be irrigated all of the time. But as of endless irrigation, the farmers at Mesopotamia harvested twice per year, although the Egyptians have chosen just after.

Intendant Ebish-II, c. 2400 BC

The irrigation systems that were crucial for agriculture took the great amount of hard work, complex construction and also the most crucial of mobilization of an adequate workforce and decent organization. Thus artificial irrigation finally led to the creation of communities and societal stratification into three groups: nobility, free slaves and citizens. Nobility, priesthood along with a priest-king as ultimate spiritual and secular ruler were accountable for the building, business and maintenance of irrigation methods. Priest-kings known as en, legal or ensi were seen as agents of the city patron god who belonged all the territory of town. Priest-kings dwelt in the temples that were both spiritual and administrative facilities of specific irrigation system unit. About the temples developed cities as religious, administrative and commerce centers causing the development of Sumerian city-states also called the temple-states due to the major role of the priesthood in society.

The Sumerian cities were occupied by nobility executing king’s orders and will via a nicely organized administrative device. The Sumerian priest-kings gathered taxes generally in products to maintain the administrative and governmental association, although the Sumerian priest devised writing – the Cuneiform script to simplify country trading and administration. Besides priesthood and nobility, Sumerian city inhabitants consisted of merchants, craftsmen and others that have been largely engaged in commerce. The middle class of merchants and craftsmen in Mesopotamia was quite powerful and relatively independent. Merchants and craftsmen in Mesopotamia were permitted to take initiative and did not just operate on king’s sequence such as the Egyptian players and retailers. Farmers, shepherds, hunters and fishermen in Mesopotamia lived at town environment and have been the lower course of their Mesopotamian society. They took good care of food distribution of the towns and were largely bad but free. In the very base of the societal hierarchy in Mesopotamia were the slaves that had been mainly prisoners of war. Slaves could be purchased or sold but they had been permitted to marry and to own households. The particular position in both government and market had the scribes.

The priest-kings were substituted by monarchical rule throughout the Akkadian Period (c. 2340 BC – 2150 BC) which likely led to larger social stratification. Unlike during Old Sumerian interval when all property was owned by the temples that the resources from Akkadian Period cite private ownership. The Old Sumerian social arrangement with the powerful middle class was largely restored following the autumn of Akkadian Empire, however, culture in Mesopotamia became largely feudal about the centre of the 2nd century BC (Middle Eastern Period). Noble families held property as inalienable fiefs, although the farmers were getting more reliant.

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