The Formation of a Complex Society and Sophisticated Cultural Traditions in Ancient Times

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Over the time as the need for farmers became less and less as better techniques became more available, there were many new industries and creations that were developed by the people who could now create them. One of the more major things that came out of specialized labor was the working of metal, which allowed for much stronger weapons and tools to be created. One of the earliest of these was the creation of bronze, which was done by the mixing of tin and copper to create a much stronger tool that could be used for weapons, among other things, for farm equipment, which allowed for even more specialized labor to be used.

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After 1000 BC, the proper equipment for the creation of iron was invented by the Hittites who inhabited ancient Anatolia. This creation of iron quickly outranked the uses of bronze tools, which allowed for, yet again, the creation of more specialized jobs based on the development of better materials. Another creation form Mesopotamia that was created as an eventual result of specialized labor was the creation of the wheel. Though it was originally used in Sumer for carts and other methods of transportation for long distances, this idea quickly spread throughout many surrounding areas over the next centuries and managed to influence nearly every aspect of society. Yet again to be able to transport things longer and further than before, the Sumerians mastered the art of shipbuilding. This allowed for the trade of various materials within the range of the ships. Often, they could even go as far as India, which allowed the Sumerians and Babylonians to trade with the Harappan society of Northern India. When the use of the wheel, shipbuilding, and a bureaucratic system of governance were used in conjunction, it allowed for the creation, use, and maintaining of major trade links that stretched around the world.

Though Mesopotamian society did often use normal labor to construct things that were deemed necessary, in certain circumstances, slave labor would be used. This would often come after the development of social hierarchy in well-established places such as Sumer or Uruk where social boundaries were well-defined. A forced laborer would often be put into this position of servitude as a result of one of three things: being a captured prisoner, being a convicted criminal, or being someone who was highly in debt and put themselves into this position to compensate for their debts.

In Hammurabi’s Code, it set out that men ruled their respective households and had the right to make decisions on what the family would do for each person. Though this did help in solidifying the bureaucratic systems that had become prevalent in Mesopotamian societies, it did also limit rights for women, effectively ending the relative gender equality that existed in Paleolithic and Neolithic times. A few women though would attain very high or important roles, though, this was not the norm. Examples of this include high priestesses who controlled large estates, women who had some sort of say in the nation’s actions, such as being the wife or consort of a king, or, if a woman was born into nobility and was allowed to become a scribe. Most women though would not ever have the privilege to do this however, and instead would be in positions of home and childcare.

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