The picture above shows King Hammurabi receiving the law code (Hammurabi's code) directly from the sun god, Shamash.
The picture above shows King Hammurabi receiving the law code (Hammurabi's code) directly from the sun god, Shamash.

CLASS SYSTEMS IN MESOPOTAMIA
King; This was the highest class in Mesopotamia. Kings reached their status by their valor and success in the war. However, in the later years of Mesopotamia, kings started to arrange for their sons to succeed them as the next king. The king was responsible for their kingdom. They were believed to be the chosen one by god. However they never reached divine status as they were not perceived as gods as in Egypt.

Nobles: Nobles were the next highest class in Mesopotamia. They were usually members of the royal family or close supporters of the king. Like kings they too won their positions by their valor and success as warriors. Nobles were also considered part of the ruling class along with the kings.

Priest/ Priestesses: Priest/ Priestesses were very important to each city in Mesopotamia. The Priest/ Priestesses ensured good fortune with the gods and with the communities. In exchange for their services, they lived in temple communities and received goods such as food, drinks, or clothing from city inhabitants.

Free commoners: free commoners mostly worked as peasant cultivators in the countryside. The usually worked on land owned by their families. Some free commoners did achieve better jobs as they were builders or craftsmen. However, free commoners had to pay taxes usually consisting of a surplus of agricultural production.

Dependent clients: held less status than free commoners as they owned no land. They usually worked on estates owned by kings or nobles. However, they had to pay taxes like free commoners.

Slaves; Salves were usually prisoners of war, convicted criminals, or individuals who were in debt and who sold themselves into slavery in order to pay off their debt. Some slaves worked as agricultural laborers or as domestic servants in wealthy households.


King Hammurabi was one of the most influential leaders in ancient Mesopotamia. The king was believed to have been the chosen one by god. As the picture indicates, god is directly handing King Hammurabi the codes to better govern his civilization. Although the king held the most elite status in the class system, god was superior to the king as he provided the laws to best govern the society.

This artifact is significant to the Mesopotamian culture as it provides an understanding as to the influence the god and the king had on the society. This is because the god provided the laws that should best rule over the kingdom. However, the king enforced the laws through the power of his reign as king. This shows the great importance of the king as he is shown being personally handed the law codes by the sun god. It also shows that the king is first in line to the god. The king would speak the words of god therefore he spoke the truth. To follow the god you must follow the king. This was the message perceived to the people of Mesopotamia and therefore they followed the king in order to not disobey the god. This also influenced the belief that the king was the chosen one from god.