This a sculpture of an average free commoner in Mesopotamia during the River Valley Era. As you can see, the man does not wear any elaborate clothing or intricate jewelery.
Mesopotamian River Valley Civilization developed an intricate social system that was enforced by mostly religion and partly economics. At the top of this system were the ruling elites of individual city-states. They maintained their position at the top of the class system because they were believed to have a been sent by the gods to govern. Religion was very important in Mesopotamia, so the authority of the ruling elites was never questioned. People didn't not want to rebel against the kings because they didn't want to risk religious punishment. Just below the kings were the priests. These priests performed religious rituals and intervened with the gods. Because they possessed religious status, people feared religious consequence and obeyed them.
A Mesopotamian king is depicted in this sculpture. Mesopotamians believed that their leaders posses divine powers, so the king is displayed here as a winged bull with a human head.
Beneath the priests were the free commoners. Free commoners had no religious status and therefore were not obeyed by the upper class. Free commoners were usually builders, artisans, physicians, or engineers. After the free commoners were the dependent clients. Dependent clients did not own property and worked on others' estates to pay off any debt that they owed. They, like the free commoners, had no religious influence, but they had less financial status so they possessed less power than the free commoners. At the very bottom of the class system were the slaves. Slaves were usually prisoners of war, criminals, or debtors (people in substantial amounts of debt sold themselves into slavery to pay off their debt). They possessed no religious influence and no financial status and had almost no freedoms. The sculptures in this exhibit display the differences between the people of the free commoner class and the kings' class and how they were viewed in society. For example, the king was viewed as a bull with wings because of his religious importance. The free commoner was depicted as a man with no significant religious status and therefore is seen in the sculpture as plain.