Roles in Society

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The Social Mesopotamian Hierarchy

Introduction to Roles in Mesopotamian Society

Roles in the Mesopotamian society were strict. This strict society was based on the hierarchy system. The hierarchy system features different ranks that are based on a individual's education and what family they are a part of. In Mesopotamia, the main roles are the king, priests, scribes, commoners, and slaves.

Upper Class Roles

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A Statue Of Sargon,The Mesopotamian King of Akkad

The upper class was made up of kings, priests, scribes, and merchants. The upper class included the most respected and educated people and these roles usually belonged to people with these characteristics or family heritage. Kings were at the top of the hierarchy in Mesopotamian Society. They were the most powerful and were in charge of making laws for the rest of the people within the society. They wore only the best clothing and jewelry. This high ranked role was usually reserved for men and they served as head of the army.

Mesopotamian Merchants Trading Goods
Priests were also very important in Mesopotamian society. Some people thought that the priests were equal to kings in power and honour. They were mainly in charge of religion. Many Mesopotamians believed that priests had relationships with the Gods. They also could be recognized as doctors. People would go to them if they had any injuries or illnesses. Scribes were highly educated people. They were taught the ancient Mesopotamian way of writing called Cuneiform. Scibes wrote letters and stories so they wouldn't be forgotten. They usually wrote on clay tablets but the object they wrote on depended on the importance of the writing. Merchants were also part of the upper class but they had a more labour intensive job than any of the other upper class roles. Some merchants traveled to distant cities to gain more business. They were responsible for creating some of the items used for trading and also creating the wealth needed to grow the civilizations in Mesopotamia. The merchants main job was to trade, bargain and sell items for the king and other upper class people.

Lower Class Roles

The lower class was made up of commoners and slaves. Commoners were part of the lower class and the majority of them were not educated. The commoners worked doing manual labour and over 85% of them worked in the fields as farmers. Other than farmers, they could be potters, fishermen and hunters. Commoners still lived inside the city walls and had some freedoms. However, they were were poor and didn't live with the nicest of things. Slaves were at the bottom of the hierarchy and were usually owned by upper class people. Slaves were usually prisoners of war but could be people who couldn't pay their taxes. Slaves had barely any rights. The only thing they had the right to do was to get married and to have children. Slaves were allowed to be bought and sold, and they were usually only sold if their owner was not happy with their performance or if they weren't being respectful.

Letter For Sargon


Dear Sargon of Akkad,

I would like introduce myself as Skaua Padsky and I am a farmer living in Akkad. On the behalf of all the other lower class people, I am writing this letter to tell you that we are unhappy. We don’t think that we are being treated fairly as we are the ones doing a lot of the hard work that helps grow our village but not being recognized for it. For instance, we grow all of the food required for our village. I know that you will not be happy with us for complaining but I thought if I did not say anything, the others and I would never have a chance to get the respect we deserve. All we want is to be recognized as people who helped grow the village.

We are getting upset and thinking of leaving our village. However, if we are given more respect for our hard work, for instance, by paying us more or providing other benefits, we will consider staying. The lower class people have decided to give you two weeks to fix this problem or some of the slaves and commoners are going to leave. Please King Sargon fix this problem, I don’t want to leave but if all of my friends leave, I will feel I have to as well.


Skaua Padsky

A Farmer