Mesopotamia Social Structure

mesopotamia social structure

    social structure

  • social organization: the people in a society considered as a system organized by a characteristic pattern of relationships; “the social organization of England and America is very different”; “sociologists have studied the changing structure of the family”
  • How society is organized and constructed.
  • Social structure is a term used in the social sciences to refer to patterned social arrangements which form the society as a whole, and which determine, to some varying degree, the actions of the individuals socialized into that structure.


  • Mesopotamia (from the Greek ??????????? “[land] between the rivers”, Assyrian called “Bet-Nahrain”, rendered in Arabic as ???? ???????? bilad al-rafidayn) is a toponym for the area of the Tigris-Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, as well as some parts of
  • Mesopotamia is the first and thus far only EP by New Wave band The B-52’s. It was produced by David Byrne of Talking Heads and was intended to be the band’s fourth studio album; however, due to conflicts with Byrne, recording sessions were aborted prematurely and the six songs to be completed
  • An ancient region of southwestern Asia in present-day Iraq, lying between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Its alluvial plains were the site of the civilizations of Akkad, Sumer, Babylonia, and Assyria
  • the land between the Tigris and Euphrates; site of several ancient civilizations; part of what is now known as Iraq

mesopotamia social structure – Democracy's Ancient

Democracy's Ancient Ancestors: Mari and Early Collective Governance
Democracy's Ancient Ancestors: Mari and Early Collective Governance
This volume examines the political landscape of the ancient Near East through the archive of over 3,000 letters found in the royal palace of Mari. These letters display a rich diversity of political actors, encompassing major kingdoms, smaller states and various tribal towns. Mari’s unique contribution to the ancient evidence is its view of tribal organization, made possible especially by the fact that its king, Zimri-Lim, was, first of all, a tribal ruler who claimed Mari as an administrative base and source of prestige. These archaic political traditions are not essentially unlike the forms of pre-democratic Greece, and they offer fresh reason to recognize a cultural continuity between the classical world of the Aegean and the older Near East. This book bridges the areas of archaeology, ancient and classical history, early Middle and Near East, and political and social history.

Mosque inside Citadel of Hewler (Erbil) Iraqi Kurdistan

Mosque inside Citadel of Hewler (Erbil) Iraqi Kurdistan
The Citadel of Arbil (Kurdish: Qelay Hewler) is a tell or occupied mound, and the historical city centre of Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq. It has been claimed that the site is the oldest continuously inhabited town in the world.
The earliest evidence for occupation of the citadel mound dates to the 5th millennium BC, and possibly earlier. It appears for the first time in historical sources during the Ur III period, and gained particular importance during the Neo-Assyrian period. During the Sassanian period and the Abbasid Caliphate, Arbil was an important centre for Christianity. After the Mongols captured the citadel in 1258, the importance of Arbil declined. During the 20th century, the urban structure was significantly modified, as a result of which a number of houses and public buildings were destroyed. In 2007, the High Commission for Erbil Citadel Revitalization (HCECR) was established to oversee the restoration of the citadel. In the same year, all inhabitants, except one family, were evicted from the citadel as part of a large restoration project. Since then, archaeological research and restoration works have been carried out at and around the tell by various international teams and in cooperation with local specialists. The government plans to have 50 families live in the citadel once it is renovated.
The buildings on top of the tell stretch over a roughly oval area of 430 by 340 metres (1,410 ? 1,120 ft) occupying 102,000 square metres (1,100,000 sq ft). The only religious structure that currently survives is the Mulla Afandi Mosque. The mound rises between 25 and 32 metres (82 and 105 ft) from the surrounding plain. When it was fully occupied, the citadel was divided in three districts or mahallas: from east to west the Serai, the Takya and the Topkhana. The Serai was occupied by notable families; the Takya district was named after the homes of dervishes, which are called takyas; and the Topkhana district housed craftsmen and farmers.
The site of the citadel may have been occupied as early as the Neolithic period, as pottery fragments possibly dating to that period have been found on the slopes of the mound. Clear evidence for occupation comes from the Chalcolithic period, with sherds resembling pottery of the Ubaid and Uruk periods in the Jazira and southeastern Turkey, respectively. Given this evidence for early occupation, the citadel has been called the oldest continuously occupied site in the world.
Ur III to the Sassanids
Arbil appears for the first time at the end of the 3rd millennium BC in historical records of the Ur III period as Urbilum. King Shulgi destroyed Urbilum in his 43rd regnal year, and during the reign of his successor Amar-Sin, Urbilum was incorporated into the Ur III state. In the 18th century BC, Arbil appears in a list of cities that were conquered by Shamshi-Adad of Upper Mesopotamia and Dadusha of Eshnunna during their campaign against the land of Qabra. Shamshi-Adad installed garrisons in all the cities of the land of Urbil. During the 2nd millennium BC, Arbil was incorporated into Assyria. Arbil served as a point of departure for military campaigns toward the east.
Arbil was an important city during the Neo-Assyrian period. The city took part in the great revolt against Shamshi-Adad V that broke out over the succession of Shalmaneser III. During the Neo-Assyrian period, the name of the city was written as Arbi-Ilu, meaning ‘Four Gods’. Arbil was an important religious centre that was compared with cities such as Babylon and Assur. Its goddess Ishtar of Arbil was one of the principal deities of Assyria, often named together with Ishtar of Nineveh. Her sanctuary was repaired by the kings Shalmaneser I, Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal. Inscriptions from Assurbanipal record oracular dreams inspired by Ishtar of Arbil. Assurbanipal probably held court in Arbil during part of his reign and received there envoys from Rusa II of Urartu after the defeat of the Elamite ruler Teumman.
After the end of the Assyrian Empire, Arbil was first controlled by the Medes and then incorporated into the Achaemenid Empire before it became part of the empire of Alexander the Great after the Battle of Gaugamela, which was fought near Arbil in 331 BC. The Roman and Parthian Empire fought over control of Arbil, or Arbira as it was known in that period, and the city became an important Christian centre. During the Sassanid period, Arbil was the seat of a governor. In 340 AD, Christians in Arbil were persecuted and in 358, the governor became a martyr when he converted to Christianity. A Nestorian school was founded in Arbil by the School of Nisibis in c. 521. During this period, Arbil was also the site of a Zoroastrian fire temple.
Muslim conquest until the Ottomans
Arbil was conquered by the Muslims in the 7th century. It remained an important Christian centre until the 9th century, when the bishop of Arbil moved his seat to Mosul. From the first half of the 12th century until 1233, Arb

A Sumerian Head of a Worshipper

A Sumerian Head of a Worshipper
Ca. 2600-2400 B.C.E., H. 10 cm.

This head, preserved down to the neck, belonged to a ?gure whose size was certainly above average (the complete ?gure was probably 60 cm high). The surface of the stone, delicately crafted, is smooth and in remarkable condition.

The face was polychromatic: the eyes (in shell, while the iris was probably inlaid with lapis lazuli) and the eyebrows (in lapis lazuli or bitumen) were made from other materials and inlaid, as proven by the visible traces of bitumen in the left eye (this material was regularly used as an adhesive and/or an insulator).

The head has a smooth, elongated shape and rests on a short, powerful neck; the bald skull is rounded and even; on the back of the head, between the ears, two modeled grooves probably indicate wrinkles of skin. The sculptor represented a smooth youthful face without any individualized features or wrinkles: it is a grown man, but of inde?nite age. His expression, almost “smiling”, is a typical feature of Mesopotamian ?gures: in reality, it probably was not a smile, but rather a demonstration of inner spirit and joy. In spite of this idealization, one should mention the great formal diversity that characterizes Mesopotamian “worshipper” statues: each ?gure is unique and can be differentiated without becoming a real physical portrait.

The forms consist of large uniform surfaces, ?nely modeled, without any incisions or engravings: the bone structure and the muscles are rendered by large, smooth, ?nely nuanced planes; the skin is ?rm and without wrinkles. The deep-set eyes are almond-shaped, the eyebrows are thick and even, the mouth is horizontal and curvy, the corners of the lips are turned slightly upwards. From a stylistic point of view, the statues found at Mari are this alabaster piece’s best parallels.

This head certainly completed a male statue of a well-known Mesopotamian iconographic type: the “worshipper” (orant/e in French, Beter in German), one of the oldest archetypes of Near Eastern sculpture. These ?gures, men or women, are represented standing or, more rarely, seated; they are dressed in the kaunakes – traditional Mesopotamian garment of sheep’s skin or wool. The position of the arms and the hands is very characteristic: the arms are folded and positioned in front of the chest, the hands are clasped (often the right over the left) and the thumbs are crossed. Their eyes are often wide open and of a disproportionate size, which is probably an iconographic convention to express the close relationship between the faithful and the divine.

According to religious Mesopotamian texts, the faithful must ful?ll duties to guarantee the favor of the gods and to prove their submission: offerings of various kinds and dedications of statues in sanctuaries are among the fundamental aspects of these practices. The representations of the faithful, which vary depending on the fortune and social position of the “dedicator” (terracotta ?gurines play the same role as stone statues) , they were meant to assure the presence of the faithful beside the divinity at the sacred sites and to continue his prayers in his absence.


BRAUN-HOLZINGER E.A., Fruhdynastische Beterstatuetten, Berlin, 1977, p. 50, n. 41 (same as OIP 44, pl. 55) ; p. 51,
n. 280 (same as OIP 60, pl. 40, n. 280).
SPYCKET A., La statuaire du Proche-Orient ancien, Leiden-Cologne, 1981, pp. 101-102, ?g. 36.
On sculpture from Mari, see :
FORTIN M., Syrie, Terre de civilisations, Montreal, 1999, pp. 280-281.
PARROT A. (ed), Au pays de Baal et d’Astarte, 10000 ans d’art en Syrie, Paris, 1983, pp. 75-83.
PARROT A., Mari, Neuchatel-Paris, 1953.

mesopotamia social structure

The Archaeology of Verbal and Nonverbal Meaning: Mesopotamian Domestic Architecture and its Textual Dimension (bar s)
Mesopotamian houses excavated at Ur and Nippur represent a unique archaeological context for the analysis of the interaction of verbal and nonverbal sign systems in that archaeologists can combine archival evidence of the III-II millennium BC with well-preserved house layouts. This work provides a general framework for the interpretation of other sites where textual evidence is absent or not in context. Although the aims of the book are multiple, the main objective is theoretical: The author goes beyond the interpretation of Mesopotamian domestic sociology and offers a semiotic theory of verbal and nonverbal meanings, useful for archaeology in general. Contents: 1) Theories of meaning and archaeology; 2) Nonverbal meaning as implicit deixis in archaeology ; 3) Verbal and nonverbal sign interaction in Mesopotamian domestic space; 4) Dynamic interaction of semiotic systems through the house cycle; 5) The spatial dimension of legal and technical discourse; 6) The ethnographic dimension of verbal and nonverbal semiosis; 7) The body in language: towards a theory of the relation between verbal and nonverbal meaning in archaeology.