There were four main classes of people in ancient
Sumer - the priests, the upper class, the lower class, and the slaves.
priests were powerful. They were in charge of making sure everyone
behaved in a way that would make the gods happy. They were the doctors
of the time. If you were sick, you called for a priest.
There is a written record of two priests, by the
bed of a sick boy, dressed to look like fish to better speak with the
water god. (This author does not know why the priests wanted to talk to
the water god. Perhaps the boy became sick in the water or from drinking
The Upper Class:
and women wore jewelry, especially rings. Men wore skirts and had long
hair, curly moustaches, and long beards. Women wore dresses, off one
shoulder. They had long hair, which they braided or wore up in fancy
arrangements. It was easy to tell who were the priests. The priests
shaved their heads. Everyone wore cloaks made from sheep wool to keep
warm in winter.
The Lower Class:
In ancient Sumer, people were paid for their work. If they ran a
shop or worked in the fields, they were paid for their goods or labor.
Stealing was a serious crime and punishment was severe. Everybody paid,
even the king.
Although the lower class did not have the luxury
lifestyle of the rich, they were comfortable. They worked very hard, but
they had homes. They wore jewelry, although perhaps it was not made of
gold. They followed the clothing fashions of the time as much as
There was no law that said they could not move up
the social scale, or more likely, have their children move up the social
scale by becoming a scribe, or a priest or priestess.
the Sumerians conquered another town, they brought prisoners back with
them to act as slaves. Slaves worked for the king, the temple and the
wealthy. Slaves were bought and sold. Records have been found recording
the amount paid for a slave. Typically, a slave bought at auction cost
less than a donkey but more than a cow.
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