Social Structure in Early Complex Societies Primary Sources

Topics: Sociology, Social stratification, Social class Pages: 2 (663 words) Published: October 12, 2014
In early civilizations, there was already a distinct hierarchy of social classes. However, although there were similarities between the hierarchies of these civilizations, the manner in which they manifested themselves and the factors which led to an individual being in a particular class differed throughout the regions and time periods.

As shown in document one, social classes were very dependent on occupation at times. In document one, an Egyptian father is shown instructing his son be academically successful, during the First Intermediate Period when invasions were common and the country was divided, for the sole reason that if he fails to do so, he will spend his days performing difficult manual labor instead of commanding those who do so. Additional documents that could support this analysis may include the diaries of a peasant worker and a priest.

Document two illustrates that a king, in this case - Hammurabi (who created the Code of Hammurabi, the official law of Babylon), at the top of the hierarchy, has all power and is capable of creating and recording all laws for his citizens. This excerpt also shows that slaves were considered far less important than the common person. This is shown in Law 199 which discusses the punishment for hurting a man's slave, which is far less severe than the punishment for hurting a man; the slave is at the lowest end of the hierarchy. Additional documents that could support this analysis might include the diaries of Hammurabi's people.

The previous analysis is also supported in document three in which a priest tells his people a story about how their world was created, during a time period when the Aryans had recently arrived in India. Within the story, it is shown that the world was created from the body Purusha. When the body was divided, Purusha's mouth, the most important part of the body,

becomes the priest, who happens to be at the highest end of the hierarchy. The arms become the warrior (or...
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