Mesopotamian Government (by Alexander Keng)

Mesopotamia, the land between two rivers, had various types of governments over the ages. For this assignment, I will break down Mesopotamian civilization into three major civilizations:
  1. Sumer (~3500 to 1800 BCE)
  2. Babylonia (~1800 to 800 BCE)
  3. Assyria (~800 to 600 BCE)

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Sumer (~3500 to 1800 BCE)

Sumer consisted of many city-states. Each city-state had its own gods and these gods lived in a large temple called a ziggurat. Gods played a big part in Sumerian government. Sumerians believed that it was their duty to bring their gods food and do their god's work. In early Sumer, a council of citizens decided what the gods wanted them to do. Eventually, power passed on to priests and to a main leader of the city, the lugal, or king. A god's word was absolute and it was up to the lugal and priest to act as god's interpreters. Lugals and priests from different cities had many disputes about land and water rights. When they couldn't negotiate an agreement, they fought each other with their small armies.
Sumer.jpgSumerian Ziggurat.jpg
Above left is a picture of a Lugal and his people. Above right is a ziggurat.

Here is a video about Sumerian life and government.


Babylonia (~1800 to 800 BCE)

Babylonian government was very similar to Sumerian government. However, the king of one of the city-states, Hammurabi, became very powerful. Hammurabi built new walls, canals, dikes, and palaces. He conquered many other city-states and established an empire that covered most of Mesopotamia. We call that empire Babylonia. Hammurabi usually allowed the kings of the city-states he conquered to continue ruling them. However, he wanted them to rule the way he wanted so he created a system of laws known as Hammurabi's Code. Hammurabi's Code used the "an eye for an eye" principle. Some examples of Hammurabi's Code are: if a son has struck his father, they shall cut off his hand; if a man helps a slave escape, he shall be put to death; and if a physician performed an operation and caused a man's death, they shall cut off the physician's hand.
Hammurabi Statue.jpgHammurabi's Code 1.jpg
These are pictures of Hammurabi and his code of laws.


Assyria (~800 to 600 BCE)

The Assyrians had a very similar type of government to the Babylonians. However, the Assyrians ruled their empire through fear rather than a code. The Assyrians were one of the first empires to have a permanent army of professional soldiers. The Assyrian army was the most powerful and efficient military force in Asia Minor. The Assyrians had a lot of influence on western civilization but this empire governed by fear did not last long.
The Assyrian Army - Calvary.jpg
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These are images of the Assyrian army.

Here is a video on the Assyrian army.

Mesopotamia Government Monologue

Alexander Keng

Dear Loyal Subjects:

This is your royal and powerful King Hammurabi. As your new king, I am putting some laws in place. These laws are about justice, punishment for the wicked and evil, and protection for the weak and innocent. These laws apply to everyone and will be displayed publicly in the town centre.

Obey my laws, our laws!

The guiding principle behind these laws are simple: do unto others as you would expect done unto you. Some example of my laws are:
  1. If a son shall strike his father, his hand shall be cut off.
  2. If a man helps a slave escape, he shall be put to death.
  3. If a physician performed an operation and performed a man’s death, his hand shall be cut off.
  4. If your slave insults his master, his ear shall be cut off.
  5. If a man strikes a freeborn woman so that she loses her unborn child, he shall pay ten shekels.

As you can see, my system of laws has a specific punishment for something done wrong. Depending on your place in our magnificent society, you will have a punishment based on your crime. I appreciate your attention and cooperation. I hope these laws will bring peace and harmony to our great land. But to make sure this happens, my troops will be patrolling all city streets night and day enforcing these laws.

His Royal Highness,

King Hammurabi of Babylonia