What really interested me from the lectures and reading for this week, was this idea of Power of Elites through Religion. About how they used it to create a greater social stratification in the society. What drew my attention was the discussion about how part of the collapse of the Old Kingdom in Egypt was somewhat brought on by the decline in tribute from the Nomarchs, as well as thoughts, from the article “Ancient Mesopotamia” by Susan Pollack, about the social differences between the “Priests” and civilians. This made me contemplate why did they give tribute to the Pharaoh in the start. What was pulled from the lectures was that Pharaohs were given their power by this idea that they were the god in human form. So that their power was from the idea that they were a god. Giving them control over their people through religious beliefs. By using this power the Pharaohs were able to convince the people to build many things in their honor. Giant Pyramids that would house their mummified bodies and treasures. During the time of the Old Kingdom colossal projects were finished and constructed. The creation of separate burial grounds that far exceeded that off “normal” civilians was part of the way this power help to social stratify the society even more.
Then I drew the connection from the reading about Ancient Mesopotamia about how the only differences in housing was with in the Ubadid society was between the temples and the civilian housing. That the temples were built on platforms that would draw them as high as 1 to 10 meters above the surrounding housing. The temples tended to not be larger than the normal households their construction was what made them different. Thought went into the construction of the temples with focuses on decorative architectural features, such as mosaic decorations, recessed portals, and niched facades. Even though the temples tended to contain house hold artifacts it also held more finely created ceramics that were painted and sometimes shaped unusually. The unusual painted and shaped ceramics were only seen with in the temple part of the site. This created a difference between those who lived with in the temple and those who did not. Power also came with this differentiation the very creation of these elaborate temples, and their sheer numbers in the sites that litter Mesopotamia can be used to show the acceptance of the Priest with in a separate category.
So in these two examples the use of Religious thought and roles can be seen as a way to for certain individuals to gain power as well as social standing. It is curious to me whether this occurs with in every beginning of every society? As well as this idea that without religion would certain monumental structures have been created?