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Posted on June 8th, 2012, by

The development of ancient civilizations was accompanied by the structuring of human society. In fact, all ancient civilizations were characterized by the strict class division of the society where each social class occupied its own niche in the social hierarchy. Obviously, the existence of the extremely stratified class structure may seem to be absolutely unjust to modern people, nevertheless at the ancient epoch this social structure played a very important role and defined the life of the entire society.

First of all, it should be said that ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece Rome and Western Europe were first powerful civilizations which achieved positive results in their policy and gained control over large territories. Traditionally, these ancient states played the key role in their region while some of them, such as ancient Roman Empire conquered all the Mediterranean region and controlled practically all ”˜civilized’ world while Ancient Greece produced a profound impact on the ancient civilizations at large as well as on the following civilizations that developed in Europe, though its impact may be felt in Asia as well.

In such a situation, it would be quite logical to wonder what the reasons for such a tremendous success of ancient civilizations were and what helped them keep their power for centuries, or even a millennium as it was in the case of ancient Rome. The answer may be found in the class structure of their societies and its stratification.

It is necessary to underline that the ancient civilizations were practically the first highly developed human societies which social structures were very complicated. At the same time, the existence of the stratified social structure was one of the essential conditions of their success. It should be said that basically, the development of ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome and Western Europe were based on the system of slavery.

In fact, slavery was the economic basis of ancient societies. For the powerful ancient civilizations slavery was extremely important even more important than for any other state. The reason is obvious ”“ the ancient civilizations used the labor of slaves and received enormous economic benefits for that epoch while the costs of such labor were minimal since the life of slaves in large empires such as ancient Rome or Egypt worth not much. Consequently, the more there were the slaves the more opportunity to get higher profits the country had. This is why a large amount of people were turned in slaves because of different reasons, such as debts, or capture. In such a way, the class of slaves was formed and it was the most severely exploited class which was the basis of the economy of ancient civilizations.


At the same time, the development of the institution of slavery resulted in the necessity to maintain a strong army which was one of the major condition of the power and dominance of ancient civilizations. The army was needed to conquer new lands which were vitally important to the economic progress of ancient states since they were agriculturally oriented. On the other hand, the invasion was a source of new slaves which could be used in the economy without large harm to the dominant ethnic group. No wonder upper officers and chiefs shaped a powerful class in ancient civilizations and it is due to this class the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome and Western Europe had strong and effective armies which defeated their rivals use to the use of better strategies and superior armor. Also, the army was a guarantee of independence of a state in the ancient world and without professional and privileged military class even the numerous army would be useless.

At the same time, ancient civilizations gradually grew larger and if early civilizations such as that of Mesopotamia, dominated in certain regions, than the Roman Empire, for instance, controlled all the Mediterranean. Naturally, on occupying such enormous territories, ancient civilizations needed some ideological basis to unite the country and make people consolidated. In such a situation, the religion played an extremely important role. This is why the class of priests was highly respected and was extremely influential in all civilizations from ancient Egypt’s priests to Gaul’s druids. This means that the class of priests was important to ideological unity of empires.

Finally, as the ancient civilizations occupied large territories and had a complicated structure they naturally needed to be well managed. This is why the class of nobility was of a paramount importance since it is aristocracy that traditionally occupied the leading political positions in ancient civilizations and defined the policy of the entire states. In such a situation, free people that did not belong neither to the class of slaves, military, priests, or aristocracy, also played an important role working as artisans, serving in army as ordinary soldiers, etc. Also, there were merchants which also played an important role since they developed trade which was extremely significant for the economic development of ancient civilizations.

Thus, in conclusion, it should be said that the stratified class structure of ancient civilizations was extremely important since it is due to such division of the society ancient civilizations could progress, get rich, and expand their borders. In fact, ancient civilizations were structured according to their socio-economic, political and economic need and each class fulfilled its own function in the society while the problems of one class could undermine the normal life of the entire society as it occurred to Roman Empire when slavery proved to be inefficient that undermined Roman economy and led to the downfall of the empire.

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