What Were the Duties of the Sumerian Rulers?

The main responsibilities of Sumerian kings during the ancient Mesopotamian civilization include religious rituals, domestic affairs of state, military affairs, law creation, administrative leadership and execution of justice. Mesopotamian society considered the king as the representative of the gods on Earth with a divinely granted right to rule.

Although considered a human agent of the gods, a Sumerian ruler was not granted divine status. His subjects did believe that he was personally chosen by the gods to represent their will.

Another important duty held by Sumerian rulers was that of military leader. Ancient Mesopotamians considered conquest of other lands as a mission granted to them by the gods. The ruler’s main responsibility was to provide more people and resources into the domain to boost the economy. War was one method of economic gain as it provided the kingdom with more land and slave labor for construction.

The ruler also created codes of law among the Mesopotamian people and appointed judges to enforce the laws. Laws created under the mandate of the Sumerian king covered various aspects of life, including land ownership, professional malpractice and divorce. The king also enforced the decision of the judges, ensuring guilty parties received just punishment under the law.