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Ancient Babylonia , The Social Side of Things

From the social hierarchy of ancient Babylonians to the way they viewed marriage, socializing amongst the people were broken up into three main classes and two basic units of family. In this article, you will learn a bit more about the social statuses and family structure of ancient Babylonia.

Exploring the Social Hierarchy of Ancient Babylonians

Placed above all others the king topped the social hierarchy of ancient Babylonia with several levels below him with slaves found at the bottom of the social status ladder. Below the king, the nobles were highly regarded members of society, followed by free citizens. Members of the military and civil servants were held in higher esteem than slaves, but were positioned low on the totem pole.

Class structure in ancient Babylonian times was pretty strict with moving from one level to another a possibility. For instance, if you were a slave because of a debt owed, one could pay off their obligation and gain access to their freedom once more. However, if someone came to Babylon because they were captured during battle , his or her only options was to escape for their life or die under their present circumstances.

Babylonian society wads primarily broken down into three different classes. The first was called awilu, which meant that the person was free and belonged to the upper class. A free individual associated with a low estate was called a mushkenu. On a legal level, they were ranked between the upper class and slaves, which were referred to as the wardu.

Taking a Look at Babylonian Slaves

At the time, the majority of slaves were actually prisoners of war. On occasion, some were recruited to become a citizen of Babylon. Additionally, free people could be demoted to the status of a slave if they were being punished for a crime. If a parent was in need, they could sell their children into slavery. It was not uncommon to see men surrendering their entire family to creditors to repay a debt. However, this option was only allowed for a period of no more than three years.

The Family Structure

Families and tribes made up the basic foundation of Babylonian society. The class and station of an individual was determined by their family. This was an important part of fitting in with the society. If you did not have a family to call your own during ancient Babylonian times, you were looked down upon. Women who lost their husbands and children without parents became the responsibility of the state. It was the king’s role to remedy such situations. Adoption was a common option.

Marriage in Ancient Babylon

Parents were in charge of arranging marriages. A betrothal became recognized in the eyes of the law when a groom presented a bridal gift to the father of the bride. Ceremonies were performed to finalize a contract that was set in stone , on a tablet. Interestingly, women of ancient Babylonian times possessed significant legal rights. She could own her own property. She could run her own business. Sometimes, they were called upon to testify in legal matters. Despite these rights, a man could still divorce his wife for next to nothing. If she was unable to give him children, he was allowed take a second wife.