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Bob Hook

The social hierarchy is definitely demonstrated over many years of Ancient Near East. The early Sumerians demonstrated that there was a class in the burial of their dead. There were over two thousand graves excavated from around the ziggurat at Ur and most were buried with minimal ceremonial items. However, 16 graves were not in buried pits but in tombs accompanied with a large number of burial items of tribute. These were believed to be the wealthy and influential members of this culture.
The votive statues of the Early Dynastic period also provide some input into the hierarchy of class. These statues are surrogates thought to represent individuals praying to their gods continuously. Even this representation must have been biased to the wealthiest classes as their clothing and curled beards indicate a higher station in life.
Another grand example is the Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way designed to pay tribute to Nebuchadnezzar. Here we have an entry to the city adorned with copper glazed bricks that are a brilliant blue, their tribute to Ishtar. The gate opens onto a processional that is lined with relief sculpture of vicious lions along with images of bulls, auroch, and a fictional scorpion dragon creature. All meant to convey the importance and fierceness of the king. In this case, the hierarchy is established with a walled city decorated whose large spaces were decorated with the finest of art using exceptional materials.