Social Roles in Ancient Civilizations 3.4
The World’s First Civilization: Mesopotamia
Life in Sumer
established a social hierarchy where some people were given a higher rank than others
highest people were the ruling family, landowners, and priests
Merchants were considered to be middle class.
Slavery in Sumer
slaves were foreigners who had been captured in war
Other slaves had been sold into slavery as children to pay off the debts of their poor parents.
Debt slaves could eventually buy their freedom.
Women in Sumer
Women were given a few legal rights, could own property, and start a career.
upper-class women learned to read and write
Women in Sumer were better off than many in later civilizations.
Life in Egypt
Egypt also used a social class system
The Pharaoh and ruling family was at the top of society
lowest class was the peasant farmers and laborers
Were not locked into their social classes. You could gain a higher status through marriage or through success in their jobs.
jobs were open to Egyptians once they learned to read and write
Slavery in Egypt
Slavery became a widespread source of labor.
Slaves were usually captives of war.
worked in the homes of the wealthy
Others worked in the gold mines of Upper Egypt.
Women in Egypt
Women had a higher status and greater independence than other ancient civilizations.
Women could propose marriage or seek divorce. If granted a divorce, she would be entitled to one-third of the couple’s property.
Death in Egypt
All social classes planned for their burials, so that they might safely reach the Other World.
Kings and queens built great tombs, such as the pyramids
Elite Egyptians’ bodies were preserved through mummification.
Life in Ancient China
anyone who lived outside of Chinese civilization was a barbarian
Chinese saw their country as the center of the civilized world
Group more important than the individual
Chief loyalty is to the family