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    • #5748
      jlchamberlain
      Keymaster

       

      The cultures of the Ancient Near East maintained a strict social hierarchy. The rules and conditions of everyday life, politics, and commerce changed based on your position in society. Discuss examples of this and how the visual record of Mesopotamia helps us understand the lives of its inhabitants.

    • #6156
      Erica Kingkade
      Participant

      The social hierarchy that existed during this time period is easily identifiable through various pieces. Votive figures that where placed at temples to stand in for worshipers varied in sizing which was linked to the difference in wealth and social standing. On the Stele of Naram-Sin the figure of Naram-Sin is larger then all the others to show he is more important. Social hierarchy is also shown on the Warka Vase from Uruk. The vase is divided into four registers. At the bottom there are animals, just above those animals are naked men which are probably servants or slaves of some sort. The top register depicts a Priest-King and the Goddess Inanna on the same level. This shows how many cultures believed that state officials operated on the gods behalf in a theocratic political system.

      • #6167
        Miranda Jackovich
        Participant

        To Elchambers
        Your example, the Warka Vase is a great example depicting social hierarchy. Showing the rulers at the same social rank as gods gave more power to influence others. The vase gives a good representation of how humans have placed themselves into groups or rank.

      • #6255
        Bob Hook
        Participant

        Re; EL Chambers
        I agree with many of your points about the hierarchy of the kings and priests. It is interesting to see the placement of slaves just above the animals. Yet, later on, there are many examples of art where fictional and real animals are utilized to imply the viciousness of leaders. An example being the Gate of Ishtar and the Processional Way.
        I am also concerned that the view we get is biased by the objects that have been preserved and saved. The art reflects the lifestyle and beliefs of the wealthiest and most powerful. It would interesting to have more objects that reflect the everyday lives of the slaves and the people who formed and placed the bricks for the ziggurat.

      • #6260
        Maggie May
        Participant

        I think that the examples you used are very relevant to accurately describing the social stratification of the time and the divine nature of appointed rulers. Great work and articulate examples.

        • #6350
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          This is a great discussion and everyone is right on point.

    • #6159
      Valene
      Participant

      As with a lot of ancient cultures there is a lot of social hierarchy. There would be a King/Nobility, Priests and Priestess, Upper and Lower class and slaves. The king and his kingdom would be assumed to be chosen by the gods and with expansion of new lands, the people would believe the king was being favored by the gods. Upper class would often own slaves and probably had more leisure time than lower class who did most of the blue color of today’s age, the farmers and bakers and construction workers who kept a town running would be them. Some of the first writings spoke of everyday life because writing was such a new and novel thing. This enabled future generations to have a decent idea of what life was like back then.

      • #6295
        Gabe
        Participant

        Your post does a good job laying out classic social castes! But I wonder if there was any social privileged associated with being a trader or merchant. Since writing cuneiform was a new technology and most of the population was probably illiterate, it would make sense that people who possessed that skill might be well provided for.

        • #6351
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          I agree with Gabe, your post is a great outline of the basic social structure, but how can this be linked to the visual record left behind? Give examples to support your post.

        • #6394
          Allie Eby
          Participant

          Hi Gabe, I really like your point about the ability to write adding a level of privilege. Do you think the merchants and traders knew how to write themselves, or perhaps some of them hired career scribes? It would be interesting (but to me, would make sense) if scribes counted as upper-class citizens simply due to their usefulness and skills being in high demand.

      • #6373
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Valene, can you link these ideas to some of the works that we studied? What pieces would have left a visual record of the social hierarchy?

    • #6162
      Kaitlyn
      Participant

      I think the artwork gives us a pretty good idea of the social hierarchy. The king, or King-priest was glorified by the people, and served by slaves more than one piece of art depicts such a scene, like the carved vessel, or “ASSURBANIPAL AND HIS QUEEN IN THE GARDEN”. In the Stele of Hammurabi it shows the king to be the same height as the god (unless the god was to stand up) which means the king was seen to be the highest figure of authority. The common people would gather for ceremonies or celebrations for the king, as one piece shows to watch him kill lions as a symbol of his strength. The lives of the common people are not shown in the artwork but it is implied the people were to follow the kings rules, maintain the land, help build the enormous structures, and the other less desirable jobs. So, there was the king, and royal family at the top of the social hierarchy, most likely followed by priests, the soldiers, the common people, then the slaves. The gods were a very important aspect to in everyones life regardless of their social class.

      • #6323
        Guy Gaswint
        Participant

        Hello Kaitlyn,

        I enjoyed your comments about the depiction of social hierarchy in art. My post was very similar with the peasants doing the work, then the wealthy followed by the kings and gods. I wrote about the vase of Warka, and I was wondering what could be in the 3rd and blank band; after reading your post I believe that it most likely would have been the soldiers or guards keeping the peasants in line.

        Thanks for sharing,

        Guy

        • #6353
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          Kaitlyn, Yes! Great post and great examples. I live that you brought up the height difference, that was a key way to differentiate social status in the artwork of this era.

      • #6352
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        I agree Gabe, good point.

    • #6168
      Miranda Jackovich
      Participant

      The Cylinder Seals from the tomb of Queen Puabi displays an example of social hierarchy. The seal depicts Puabi with others having a feast while being fanned by servants. This cylinder shows the lifestyle differences between the Queen and her servants. Another artifact displaying social ranking is the Stele of Naram-Sin. The Akkadian ruler is shown next to fallen enemies, with his soldiers underneath him. The helmet that Naram-Sin wears represents the symbol of a god, making himself godlike over his soldiers.

      • #6232
        Aubri Stogsdill
        Participant

        Re: Miranda Jackovich

        Great post! I was actually going through the various pieces, stopped at the seal, and wondered how that one could be demonstrating the social hierarchy. Now I totally see it though. It totally shows the place that each person was in and the role that had to occupy.

      • #6311
        Sam Saccomen
        Participant

        Hi Miranda,

        I love how you included various examples to explain the social ranking throughout this time period. I enjoyed how short and simple your response was it had many examples to explain the social hierarchy. I really liked The Cylinder Seals I think it is one of the few that explains the life of the Queen rather than the King.

      • #6354
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Great reply! I am glad to see you really dissecting some of the works we have been studying.

    • #6169
      Kaitlyn
      Participant

      To Miranda,
      I like the example you used of queen Puabi having a feast while her servants fanned her, it’s a really good, simple show of the differences in daily life depending on which social class you belonged to. As well as your other example, how the ruler made himself appear godlike and much larger than any other figure pictured. There are always seems to be far more detail in the images of the kings or other royal family members, than any other man or animal pictured

    • #6172
      Lucas Warthen
      Participant

      The cultures of the Ancient Near East maintained a strict social hierarchy. The rules and conditions of everyday life, politics, and commerce changed based on your position in society. Discuss examples of this and how the visual record of Mesopotamia helps us understand the lives of its inhabitants.

      I think the biggest and best example of social hierarchy in Mesopotamia comes from the Carved Vessel from Uruk. It is a rather simple piece of art, but the symbolism present in it is extremely prevalent. The top register depicts the priest-king Dumuzi on the same level as the goddess Inanna, while there are offerings being handed to her. Under that there is a large bar, representing the difference between the king / gods and the next ‘level’ of people, the servants, who are in the second register. Following that is another large bar, splitting the difference between servants and animals. The last two registers are very close together – animals and lastly plants – showing their similar importance in the hierarchy of beings. I think the biggest thing to note here is that the difference between priest-king / god and servant is the same as the difference between servant and plant / animal, so the priest-kings (or rulers in general) see themselves not only a different level than the servants, but as way higher and more important than the servants could ever be.

      • #6355
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Great reply! It is important to take note of “god like” figures and how they represent the higher classes in society and depict their privileged lifestyles but also, in some cases, how the lower classes viewed them.

      • #6400
        rdnelson4
        Participant

        I agree the Carved Vessel from Uruk depicted the social hierarchy of ancient Mesopotamia very well! The Warak Vase gave a pretty clear picture that while the king was still under the goddess, he is the one making the sacrifices and the servants and animals existed only as the means to make that happen.

      • #6408
        Raven Shaw
        Participant

        Great commentary on the Vessel of Uruk! The literal stratifying lines on the vessel separate the different classes of life by their importance in the society. Your most interesting point was about the separation between king and servant being similar to the separation between servant and animal/plant. I noticed on the vessel that there is more visual order to the servant and animal scenes, that they are like little marching armies in comparison to the top scene. I wonder if this is the order the rulers wish to impose on the lower classes?

    • #6177
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      I think of the video we watched where we learned about Hammurabi’s code, at the very last second you said eye for an eye doesn’t count if it’s between a slave and a citizen. Property laws and civil laws changed depending on what social standing you were placed in. The carved vessel of Uruk is a great example showing different social standings, literally a hierarchy as the registers go down. Up top we have Inanna, and the priest-king, the highest standing social rank, and then on the second register there are naked men whose purpose only seems to be to deliver/produce the food. The lowest tiers are the source of food and economy itself. It shows us that a society during those days could not run without the foundation of producers and delivers.

      • #6356
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Great example and discussion on symbolism. I am glad that you guys are taking note of the subtle differences in scale and placement that indicates the stratified social structures that were so predominant during this time period and civilization.

    • #6179
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      RE: Miranda Jackovich
      I like all the examples you gave– showing how important rulers are is probably the biggest element we got on the social hierarchy. I think it’s also important to note the servants and soldiers as contributors to the social formation. Without them there would be no one to rule, and I’m glad that they are depicted in ancient art.

    • #6180
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      RE: Valene
      Like you said, there were several different classes within the hierarchy. It’s a shame it had to be that way, but I can understand why a society that new would need the strict ruling, it could easily fall apart as we’ve seen throughout history. While the upper class had more leisure time than the lower class, the rulers certainly had the most leisure time if we look at “Assurbanipal and his Queen in the Garden’.

    • #6182
      Lucas Warthen
      Participant

      Miranda,

      I also liked the representation displayed in the cylinder seals. They are rather straightforward in their depiction of a hierarchy and display actions that probably took place during the time of their creation. I would also argue in your second example that the helmet Naram-sin wears not only represents his significance and ranking over his soldiers but also the connection kings/rulers have with their deities/gods. It could also be significant that soldiers and fallen enemies are on a similar level to each other!

    • #6195
      Lacey Miller
      Participant

      Hi Jessi-
      “…eye for an eye doesn’t count if it’s between a slave and a citizen.” That very much is a representation of the times in that area. Really quite sad and interesting to think about.

    • #6196
      Lacey Miller
      Participant

      The cultures of the Ancient Near East maintained a strict social hierarchy. The rules and conditions of everyday life, politics, and commerce changed based on your position in society. Discuss examples of this and how the visual record of Mesopotamia helps us understand the lives of its inhabitants.

      I think one of the most blatant examples and representations of the hierarchy is CARVED VESSEL from Uruk. It lays out pretty clearly the importance and social standing of each social class. Most art of this time, especially the pieces depicting a scene of some sort use position as a representation of power and greatness, the most powerful figure generally being at the top. Most also depict the servants and slaves of the time, CYLINDER SEALS
      From the tomb of Queen Puabi. This representation of the servants was not to pay them homage but rather to bolster the ruler’s greatness.
      These visual representations tell us that there were very strict and adhered to social classes that determined ones’ social standing.

      • #6253
        csayreswoody
        Participant

        Hey Lacey,
        I too can agree with you when you said that the piece the carved vessel from Uruk showed a great example of social hierarchy and gave us a view of how they operated in Ancient times.

        • #6358
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          Lacey, Yes! Great examples, I like how you point out that some of these pieces were not necessarily to pay homage but to boost the ego of the ruler. I feel like throughout history we see examples of this, when rulers have works made for this very purpose.

      • #6357
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        I agree! It is interesting that you guys picked up on that quote, can you elaborate a bit more and maybe provide an example to back up your point.

    • #6197
      Lacey Miller
      Participant

      elchambers-
      I hadn’t even noted the importance of size to determine greatness. Thank you for pointing that out.

      • #6359
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        I agree as well, Kei. Can you elaborate on this? Maybe give some examples of that provide similar evidence of the social stratification of this civilization? Why would these objects be important during the time in which they were created?

    • #6227
      Bob Hook
      Participant

      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.

    • #6231
      Aubri Stogsdill
      Participant

      It is true that like nearly all historic cultures, there were very strict social hierarchies in the kingdoms of Mesopotamia. Rulers used visual record to communicate their dominance as well as where their subjects fell in the ’line up’ in a number of ways. One example is found at Perespolis. This was a massive audience hall and to date it was the largest covered area. Inscribed on the sides were images of lions in combat, which were intended to represent the strength of the kind. Also just above, along the sides are carved soldiers. This structure was made for one purpose– to demonstrate to the people that the person ruler was in fact, above them. The sheer size communicated the ‘smallness’ of the kings subjects. Another example of this hierarchy is seen on the carved vessel from Uruk. At the top we see a priest-king interacting with a goddess. Just below there is a string of men, and still below that are lines of animals. As the vessel goes from top to bottom, the size of the characters decreases. The placement and size of the characters is a visual representation of status. When A character is larger than others, on top, or endowed with some sort of ‘god like’ attribute, it is clear that character was considered of more importance within the social hierarchy.

      • #6269
        Valene
        Participant

        Great examples Aubri of how artifacts could show the social hierarchy of people in this time period. Throughout history it has been shown that people are placed at different levels of importance and honestly it makes sense to give the people on the low end of the hierarchy a reason for why they are there. No one wants to feel less important than others but the idea that you are following a god’s divine appointment likely helps with the blow of getting to be a slave or lower class individual.

        • #6361
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          Great post, it is important to note the difference in size and scale and how that relates to social status. Even the size of a grand space can communicate wealth and power.

      • #6272
        lwalters1
        Participant

        Aubri-
        I really like your example.Artifacts could really play role in showing you a social hierarchy of people in this time period. People are placed in different levels and each one of them are as important . Each helping contributing to society. Telling people from the lower part of hierarchy that they are following God’s divine appointment helps them think that its meant to be, and that they are important as well.

        • #6362
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          Even given a reason for their place in the social structure, many were born into their social class and had no way of changing that. When you mention that there is a divine component that might bring ease to those in the lower classes, can you give some examples? Maybe this can be seen in some of the works we have studied.

      • #6360
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Yes, great discussion here. It is very important to take note of how the dead were treated, this tells us a lot about the social structures of this and many other civilizations.

    • #6251
      ckocsis
      Participant

      I think the carved vessel from Uruk is a very good example of social hierarchy. At the bottom of the vase there are plants, on the next tier up there are animals, which shows that this vase depicts a sort of food chain. Then there are a line of men who could either just be working class people or slaves, and then at the very top there is the king and a goddess. The fact that the king and the goddess are on the same level implies that they are on the same level in the social hierarchy as well, illustrating the extent of the power the priest kings had.

      • #6314
        tmbergan
        Participant

        Ckocsis, I really like that you saw the vase as a depiction of a food chain. That’s a great way to think of the different levels on it; as you get higher with each bar you see that the gods and goddesses, as well as the rulers, are on top.

      • #6395
        Allie Eby
        Participant

        Hi ckocsis! I also really appreciate your point about the “food chain” displayed on the sele. While the city’s food and other necessities were most likely produced by working class citizens, the slaves were treated as even lesser. What sort of jobs do you feel the slaves had, that placed them somewhere between working class citizens and animals in the eyes of society?

    • #6252
      csayreswoody
      Participant

      Social Hierarchy seems to have been apart of Ancient Near East since the beginning. I noticed how in the piece the Craved Vessel how the artist showed how they would operative back then. They showed how the Kings ruled everything and how the lower class/slaves worked to get things done and how the animals was a the bottom of the tolling pool. It showed exactly where each class stood/ their rightful place is.

    • #6259
      Maggie May
      Participant

      Social stratification of the Ancient Near East is exemplified through it’s art. We see divinely appointed rulers (as exemplified in the Stele of Naram-Sin) who rule over citizens whose role was to serve them and their societies (also as in the Warka Vase). In the Warka Vase, we see stratification broken into gods, rulers appointed by gods, others, and finally animals. In the Stele of Naram-Sin, it is exemplfied by the depicition of Naram-Sin as larger and more powerful than others. We also see social stratification in burial sites, where the most “signifcant” members of a society were buried with many artifacts (such as the Lyre) which signified their wealth or power within the society.

      • #6313
        tmbergan
        Participant

        Maggie, you listed a lot of great examples! For the Lyre, one of the sources mentioned that they found Queen Pu-Abi’s lyre with the bodies of ten women with lots of jewelry that they assumed were sacrificial victims. So some of the more powerful and wealthier individuals definitely continued to show their social standings even after their deaths.

      • #6363
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Kei, Can you elaborate and talk more about the piece you used as an example? I dont know if I can agree with your last statement, many individuals were born into their rank in society, it was not necessarily a fair or just system. As you will see in other units we study, many of the rulers were not suited to have such a position.

    • #6264
      Tamara Toy
      Participant

      When it comes to the social stratification of the Ancient Near East, art gives us excellent examples and representations. The Law Code Stele of Hammurabi gives us several insights into this. Not only do we see Hammurabi on equal footing as the god, Shamash, but this also gives the impression that the laws are god given, inforcing the social structure. The laws themselves, show the stratification as punishments for a commoner that strikes someone of a higher social rank, their punishments were much more severe than if the roles were reversed. The well quoted, “An eye for an eye” would only have been applicable if both parties were of the same social standing. As well, extensive laws in a massive empire would create the need for another layer to the social structure-a judicial structure of some kind. This would be in addition to the religious stratification in the social structure, as well as the social rankings themselves.

      • #6364
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Great observation! I am glad you highlighted this point.

    • #6270
      Aalieyah Creach
      Participant

      Q: The cultures of the Ancient Near East maintained a strict social hierarchy. The rules and conditions of everyday life, politics, and commerce changed based on your position in society. Discuss examples of this and how the visual record of Mesopotamia helps us understand the lives of its inhabitants.

      A: A perfect example and visual record of everyday life, politics, and commerce in the Ancient Near East is the carved vessel from Uruk. You can kinda piece together an image of how the Ancient Near East social hierarchy worked. You have the crops and animals at the bottom half of the vase symbolizing the lower class used only for nourishment and goods for the middle and higher class. Then there’s the working class or slaves in the middle of the vase symbolizing the middle class who work for the priest-king and worship the goddess. Then finally, at the top half of the vase, you have the priest-king and the goddess who are the upper class of the social hierarchy who rules over all.

      • #6278
        Laura Barber
        Participant

        Aalieyah:
        You provide a terrific example! The vase shows the hierarchy of the times in literal form, with the high class citizens at the top of the vase. All of the lower class individuals are holding up the people at the top, however, making it possible for them to exist in such luxury.

        • #6366
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          Yes, good example. Why do you think pieces like this were of great importance? Why was it necessary to keep a visual record of the social structure and do you think all the classes had access to such visual records and understood them?

      • #6365
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Yes, great example and explanation!

    • #6276
      tmbergan
      Participant

      The Stele of Naram-Sin is a great visual for Mesopotamia’s strict social hierarchy. Naram-Sin is seen as larger than any of the other people in the piece and stands well above them. He also wears a horned helmet which is described as a symbol of the gods, thus equating him with them. The Stele of Hammurabi is similar with the size as the god Shamash would be twice Hammurabi’s size if he were standing, showing his power over the mortal man. A big difference between the two pieces seems to be that Naram-Sin is seen as claiming divinity for himself, then getting the approval from the gods whereas Hammurabi is being given that power and law directly from the god. Either way, it appears that a god will approve of a king’s authority and be closer to the king than the lower-class people as we see the gods and kings next to each other in some of the pieces such as these.

      • #6292
        Miranda Johansson
        Participant

        tmbergan – I agree with you completely. The way that the rulers would equal themselves or even just place them in a close relation to gods, made them seem more important than other people. The way they would display themselves as bigger, or even being catered to, showed a significant power over other people.

        • #6367
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          Great comparison! It is important to note that in many of these works we see the rulers equating themselves to a god-like status. Do you think this was a shared view or generally a self directed view?

    • #6281
      Laura Barber
      Participant

      The strong social separation between those of different classes and levels of wealth can clearly be seen in the code of law created by Hammurabi in the Babylonian empire. He founded the ‘eye for an eye’ law, but designed it so that punishments were only equal when the victim and perpetrators were so-called ‘equals.’ One example of this control of the higher-class citizens over the lower-class citizens is displayed in “Assurbanipal and His Queen in the Garden.’ Servants on either side of the royal couple fan them and bring them trays of food, all while the severed heads of their enemies hang from the trees in an elaborately decorated room. This juxtaposition of wealth and power is made clear by the many evident differences between the lives of the royalty and their servants.

      • #6388
        Tamara Toy
        Participant

        Laura, I really appreciate your linking of the two pieces under this context. At least for myself, sometimes it helps to understand the meaning if I think of them as pieces of a puzzle, instead of separate works. Both of these works tell us in different ways how the social stratification was present and in which ways it affected people. The use of wealth and power to assert one’s place in the social hierarchy is not a new concept but it is very interesting to see how this power was asserted and in what it ways it was different for different layers of society.

    • #6284
      Dean Riley
      Participant

      The social hierarchy is very evident in a number of pieces of art of this time period. In “Assurbanipal and His Queen in the Garden”, there is a distinction between the rulers and the servants bringing them food. Even having his Queen seated at his feet seems like he is raising himself above her position. In the Votive Statue of Gudea, Gudea is seen holding a vase that the Euphrates and Tigris rivers are flowing out of. These two rivers were the lifeblood of commerce in that area, and by Gudea representing that he is responsible for the rivers producing what they do.

      • #6293
        Miranda Johansson
        Participant

        Dean – what a great analogy of Gudea and Euphrates and Tigris! I didn’t think about that at all. It definitely claims to power, to claim that a human would be the reason for two natural occurrences. Or even claiming that all the good that the rivers produce is because of the ruler is a bold claim. Great perspective – thank you!

        • #6368
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          Really great examples Dean! Are there any other visual clues in these pieces that would indicate social structure? If you look closely at your first example there are some fine details that even further enforce the status differences.

    • #6294
      Gabe
      Participant

      The first thing that really stuck out to me was how in the Cylindrical Seals the figures are identifiable as women because of their fringed skirts and pulled back hair, which is super fascinating because (for better or worse) those same qualities could be used to identify someone as a woman today in our society. That goes to show how enduring some of these social structures are! The fact that these people cared about writing down their transactions and laws, from the earliest cuneiform tablets to Hammurabi’s Stele, shows that they were concerned with stability and creating something that would last. So it’s not surprising that their culture was socially stratified without much up and down social movement. It seems like their mythology reflected this, as we can see with the depictions of the rulers and Gods. Of course life probably was more comfortable for people in higher social positions. As discussed in the video, the punishments laid out by Hammurabi’s code certainly favored the privileged.

    • #6297
      Miranda Johansson
      Participant

      I found the panel of alabaster showing Assurnasirpal II killing lions to be a very interesting demonstration of the strength and bravery. This was a ritualistic hunt for ruler’s to show their capabilities of killing worthy opponents. What is ironic is the guards and chariot that the ruler has for helping him kill the lions. It seemed to be a vague demonstration of strength.
      <br>Another interesting example is the carved vessel of Inanna. The carvings on this vessel almost look similar to a food chain. At the bottom there are grains with rams and ewes above. Then we have naked men carrying food above the sheep. There is nothing significant about the men, it seems that their purpose is mainly to serve. At the top there is a priest-king, with more servants tending to him and Inanna. It seems as if there is a celebration of sorts. The “more important” individuals, the priest-king and Inanna, are being tended to and it seems as if all the attention is on them. They are also carved out larger than all the others on the vessel, as to show their significance in comparison. It seems as if the sole purpose of all things below the significant individuals are to serve them.
      <br>I think that this demonstrates some of the social hierarchy in the importance of certain individuals in comparison to other people and even nature around them. They all exist for serving them.

      • #6369
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        I like that you brought up mythology. As we have been seeing in other units, storytelling is a very important part of passing down knowledge in many of the civilizations that we study. Did you notice any other works that could be linked to storytelling or the passing of knowledge in this unit?

    • #6303
      Erica Kingkade
      Participant

      Miranda: I like the point you made about the vague demonstration of strength. I also found your point about the sole purpose to serve those at the top an excellent way of putting it.

      • #6370
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        I am happy to see a few new examples being introduced into the discussion! And once again the idea that social structure of this time were much like a food chain.

    • #6304
      Sam Saccomen
      Participant

      The cultures of the Ancient Near East maintained a strict social hierarchy. The rules and conditions of everyday life, politics, and commerce changed based on your position in society. Discuss examples of this and how the visual record of Mesopotamia helps us understand the lives of its inhabitants.

      ASSURBANIPAL AND HIS QUEEN IN THE GARDEN was a great example of the strict social hierarchy. Just as we have seen in history the Gods came first. Right under the gods were the king and queen, they had the most power throughout their culture. The Priest were almost equal to kings because religion was such a big part of their culture. The upper class was next and they often had more leisure time and often had slaves of their own. Slaves were at the bottom and receive very little leisure time. The ASSURBANIPAL AND HIS QUEEN IN THE GARDEN depicted the perfect image of how the king and queen lived. I thought it was interesting that it even depicted how men’s power was greater than women’s. It showed how slaves brought food and fanned the royalty. Also below the King’s throne was he necklace. This implied that only Royalty and Priest were able to afford jewelry and nice clothing. This showed who royalty was. Throughout history these social classes continue to pop up as we can see through visual art and jewelry.

    • #6306
      Kaylyn Kelly
      Participant

      An example that visually shows social hierarchy from the ancient near east is the carved vessel from Uruk. At the bottom of the vessel there is vegetation which is the lowest on the chain. Next, the animals are shown which slowly moves up the chain. They are higher than the lifeless vegetation. Next, you have the men caring the bowls which could be considered the lower class but they’re still higher than the livestock. Finally, you have the highest individuals which are the kings and goddesses. This vessel portrayed the social hierarchy in the ancient near east very well.

    • #6307
      Allie Eby
      Participant

      The class-divided culture of many Mesopotamian societies most clearly stood out to me in the differences between the treatment and the duties of the nobility, their citizens, and their servants/slaves. For example, the nobility were clearly deified and favored greatly, with servants catering to their whims and grand tombs being erected for past kings much like the later pharaohs of Egypt. Aside from controlling the military like we see in the Stele of Naram-Sin, we can also infer from sculptures and carvings that the duties of the ruling class were generally relegated to ceremonial and governmental activities. The carved vessel from Uruk and the carving of Assurnasirpal killing lions both portray the respective cultures’ rulers receiving tribute and partaking in organized and symbolic rituals. We know also from the Stele of Hammurabi that the ruling class defined all the laws of society, often under the guise of divine mandate. This stele shows us also that slaves were treated as lesser than citizens (as in the “eye for an eye” example), with punishments for crimes differing depending on the caste, gender and social standing of perpetrator and victim. We know also that there was likely a class of wealthy citizens, indicated by items such as the customized cylinder seals used to mark property, with more materially valuable and intricate seals used by those with a higher standing in society. Later rulers in Persia even had designated rooms for citizens to provide them with tribute, indicating to me that not only were the rulers near to gods themselves, but also that there was a class of citizens and artisans with the means to create, buy and sell said tribute. From all of these indicators, we could infer that the rulers were treated as mortal gods and had great power over their citizens, who they themselves possessed significant power over the lower servant class.

    • #6322
      Guy Gaswint
      Participant

      The social stratification in the Ancient Near East is depicted on many works of art from that period. The Warka Vase is an excellent example of social hierarchy, starting at the bottom of the vase there are 5 bands, one of which is blank. Starting at the bottom there are crops in the first band, then livestock on the second band. The 3rd band is blank but could have had paintings on it. The fourth band has the workers/slaves and the last has the gods and politicians. This is very much the same as art and social hierarchy throughout history. I see the correlation of the peasants/slaves working the fields and raising livestock (doing the work) to offer to the gods/church and kings/politicians so they can live in privilege. The material used on the vase is alabaster which was a very prized material and most likely portrayed wealth.

      This whole assignment has really reminded me that history repeats itself. The social hierarchy is and always has been alive and well. Whether we are discussing Mesopotamia or modern day we still have the rich getting richer and the poor being suppressed. Mesopotamia had kings and gods, we have politicians and churches and the peasants have to follow the hierarchy.

      Guy

      • #6371
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Great post and wonderful examples!

      • #6372
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Good post Guy and nice example. Yes, history does repeat its self unfortunately and we will see this time and time again as we study future units. Dont you think we can learn a lot from the objects and art that has been left behind?

    • #6387
      Jess
      Participant

      An example that I believe shows social hierarchy very well is the The Stele of Naram-Sin. At the top of the Stele, Naram-Sin is shown at a larger size compared to the other people in the scene depicted. This shows he is better than those he rules. He is also shown killing an enemy but also sparing another. This shows that he gives punishments when they are necessary but is also merciful. There are then soldiers bellow Naram-Sin. This shows that they follow him and listen to his commands that he may give.

    • #6399
      Aalieyah Creach
      Participant

      Re: Jess

      Very good observation of The Stele of Naram – sin and very well done on explaining it as well. It is interesting how a piece of artwork can portray such messages and stories just by looking at it.

    • #6401
      rdnelson4
      Participant

      The Ancient Near East maintained a very strict social hierarchy; we know this because their preserved art depicts it clearly for us to see and learn from. The Warka Vassel from Uruk or present day Iraq was created between 3300 BC and 3000 BC. The alabaster vassel shows offerings being presented to the goddess Inanna. At the top of the vase, the priest-king can be seen standing while the offerings take place, a servant lifting his sash from the ground. Even though he is not actively taking place in the offering-giving his placement makes him the focus of the piece, as if all the proceedings are due to his bidding and the servants and animals are just the vessels themselves, used to accomplish the task at hand. Even the goddess seems overshadowed by the king, as if the religious devotion is merely to reassert the king’s own divinity. The servants are almost identical, making them seem unimportant and disposable along with the animals and plants at the base of the vessel. In a way, not only is a hierarchy depicted, but also an ecosystem of sorts. The plants feed the animals, which sustains the peasants/servants who exist to serve and glorify the king and goddess, who are on the same level. The imagery is also a metaphor, each higher level standing on the one beneath it.

    • #6407
      Raven Shaw
      Participant

      In the Stele of Hammurabi, punishments were different depending on what class you were. Punishments for elites involved paying fines, and punishments for lower class people involved physical violence and death. Rules were different for women, reflecting expected obedience to their husband but also men’s responsibility to financially care for women. It is interesting that the stele seems to be a record of legal precident, rather than actual solid laws. And that it was placed in a public place so that people would gain comfort in the defined order that their king brought to their lives — even if some of the rulings sucked.

      Cylinder seals were used like we use our ID and signature today. The level of artistry of one’s seal could tell people how high or low in class you were. Rich people could afford to hire the best artists, so their seals were beautiful and highly detailed. Rough or simple seals showed that you were low class. This makes me think of the business card scene in American Psycho, but set in Mesopotamia.

      Size mattered in carved scenes, showing that the higher class were shown as much larger than the “little people.’ Rulers were shown as nearly the size of gods, and it seems like society was built around worship of the gods through the living rulers.

      Most of the scenes that showed regular people depicted them as slaves, servants, and soldiers in service to their royalty. All attention is payed to the central royal figure, all movement is in supplication to them. This would suggest that the lower class only existed to serve royalty, but it could also mean that the people who had money and time were the ones to chisel the history scenes. I have to assume that the lower classes still knew how to party, they just weren’t recorded.

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