Social Organizations

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Politico Religious

assyrian_head.jpg Social organizations within Mesopotamia society were associated mainly with politics and religion combined. The two main organizations within the cities were the temple and the palace. There actually both built upon the concept of the "household." The palace was considered the household of the king while the temple was a household of their god, and their god had to be clothed and taking care of. It was usually the slaves who actually tended to the needs of the god. The palace and the temple were highly organized and the whole Mesopotamia society contributed to its maintenance, whether it was through taxation, property, trade or war.

 

The palace and the temple were very similar but were also very different. The size of the palace and the way it looked depended entirely upon the ruling monarch, while the temple depended entirely upon the generous contributions of the people. After the time of Hammurapi, the temple seemed to be a bit less important than the spectacular palaces of the Neo-Assyrian empire.

 

It was really the royal duty and privilege of the king to make sure that the temples were cared for, and prisoners of war were required to help beautify the temples and the spoils of war were supposed to be dedicated to a great extent.

 

During the latter part of the Assyrian empire priests were given authority so that they could exact taxation for the king. In ancient times, the Assyrian king was also the high priest and representative of the god Ashur. This is actually one way that the Assyrian kingdom was different than the Babylonian, in that it was more theocratic.

 

Most of the people who lived outside the temple within the cities were, for the most part, equal in social status. Most of the people were farmers who tended land outside the cities during the day and came to sleep at night.

 

The city was self-governed and an assembly with a presiding officer were responsible to keep order. The wealthy, and the elderly were greatly respected. There were many merchants and craftsmen, but it was more difficult to become an exorcist or diviner, requiring that one passes a strict examination and physical fitness test. Scribes were also well-trained and organized, and one had to undergo extensive classes and rituals to become a member. Education was confined to the upper classes, mainly to the priests and scribes.

 


Ancient Assyrian Social Structure

"To give the people an example of the power of Ashur, my lord, I hung the heads of Sanduarri and Abdi-Milkutti round the necks of their most prominent citizens, whom, thus adorned, I made walk in procession along the streets of Nineveh, to the strains of singers accompanying themselves on harps." [King Essarhaddon]

Ancient Assyrian Social Structure 

Introduction
Assyria
Social Organizations
Slavery
The Family
Social Life
Conclusion
Map of the Fertile Crescent

Assyrian Social Structure

Biblical Archaeology

Bible History Online

The Story of the Bible


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Assyrian Commanding Soldier

Table of Contents

Introduction
Assyria
Social Organizations
Slavery
The Family
Social Life
Conclusion
Map of the Fertile Crescent

Biblical Archaeology

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