Thesis: The Indian caste system and Egyptian patriarchy both had a religious basis and almost non-existent social mobility, but they differed in the severity of their gender inequality.


1. A patriarchal society is where the role of men is placed above that of women.

2. Many empires during the post classical era created patriarchal societies due to changes in the roles of women and men

Examples of these empires are: China, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and India

Egypt: In Egypt for example men were vested with authority over public and private affairs of their women.
Unlike many patriarchal societies during this time in Egypt women of royal decent were able to serve as regents for young rulers. Like Queen Hatshepsut who served as co-ruler with her stepson Tuthmosis III.

Mesopotamia: Hammurabi's Code gave men higher status than women. Men in Mesopotamia decided the work that the family members would perform and made marriage arrangements for their children as well as any others who came under their authority. Like Egypt though women were able to influence kings and their governments at ruling courts.

India: People in India followed the Lawbook of Manu which stated that women should be treated with honor and respect, but he insisted that women remain subject to the control and guidance of the principal men in their lives-first their fathers, then their husbands, and finally if they survived their husbands, and their sons. Women's main role was to have children and maintain the household. Sati custom for widows.

China: Like many empires of the time China took on a patriarchal character which intensified with the the emergence of large states. Men, even in neolithic times, wielded public authority, but won their rights to it by virtue of the female line of descent. Women's value decreased after the Shang Dynasty.

Compare and contrast: While the patriarchal society had a inequality between men and women the caste system in India separated people in authority not only due to gender but what occupation you took.

Caste System

1.The caste system was based on the ideals of the Varnas that brought their patriarchal system of life to India.

2.This system unlike the other patriarchal societies of the time (China, Mesopotamia, Egypt) was set up with not just the idea of woman being below men but also a set of groups.

3.These groups were set up in this order: brahmin (priests), kshatriyas (warriors & aristocrats), vaishayas (merchants& artisans),shudras (landless peasants & serfs), and the untouchables.
brahmins picture

4. When we look at social lables today we think of poor, middle class, and rich but you are still able to come out of the poor and make it to first class. In the caste system you had to stay in the group that you were born in. For example, the untuchables were the lowest on the caste system yet unlike the other groups were segregated from the rest of the populous.

5. While the warriors and priest had a unstable yet comfortable life the workers/merchants had a stable life that better suited them.

6. The Sutte went along with the ideals of the caste system by saying that when a ruling elite dies the wife will have to die.Unlike the Lawbook of Manu which states that a women should be treated with honor and respect by the time that the Sutte had been writen the over all view of wemon in Indian society had changed.

7. Each caste is where a person was born into, married, and dies.

Religious Inequalities

1. Priests were held to a higher authority and standing in society because their roles in the community was of the greatest importance.

2. Many religions used a social hierarchy to organize their community and hold people to a code of conduct and activity.

3. Examples of this were Hinduism in India, Confucianism (although not a religion but more of a philosophy) in China, the mandate of heaven, and Egypt's reincarnated pharaoh.

~ Hinduism in India: Hinduism was the main religion in India and it was based upon the caste system. This system had strict moral and social codes as well as class system that were almost impossible to move between. SEE ABOVE FOR MORE ON THE CASTE SYSTEM

~ Confucianism in China: Confucianism was not considered a religion but a philosophy however many group it all in the same. Confucianism defined society as a series of relationships in which one is superior and one is inferior. EX: a father is superior to his son, but his son is superior to his younger brother. Like the caste system, Confucianism had a strict social structure in terms of classes and it was extremely hard to move about from classes. Unlike the caste system however the hierarchy was set up differently in Confucianism.

~ Mandate of Heaven: The Mandate of Heaven was originated in China. By definition the mandate of heaven is when the emperor is bestowed power and authority by God, thus making everyone around him subordinate. Although this is not a way to organize classes like the caste system, it does give a sense of subordination of the people to organize them under the emperor. Unlike the caste system the mandate of heaven did not have a social hierarchy except for the emperor is superior.

~ Egypt: in Egypt it was believed that the pharaohs were reincarnations of the sun king. This lead people give all the power to the pharaoh because he was seen as my god, and at any time the God could punish them. This was similar to the mandate of heaven because it gave the leader ultimate power through religion.

Political Inequality

1. Many classical societies developed inequalities due to political and/or governmental divisions of society.
2. Politics also defined the roles and status of classical civilizations.
3. Political systems of inequality differed from the caste system in that the caste system was based on religious beliefs. Political systems stemmed from the rise of a government and stratification based on this government.
4. In the caste system social mobility was basically non-existent while in political systems one could move to the next class with improved wealth or education.
5. People following the caste system were more accepting of its harsh classes because it was a key component of their religion, Hinduism, and the political system made people feel more repressed by their government resulting in more opposition.

Examples of this system of inequality:

Rome: Rome was a republic and developed social classes based on a political hierarchy. Members of the government and sectors of the government were at the top with a supporting aristocracy below them. Merchants were next, followed by peasants and slaves.

Egypt: Egyptian society was headed by a pharaoh, who was superior to everyone in society. Priests had higher societal status than the workers but a majority of the population were workers and submitted to the power of the pharaoh. Another class developed under the pharaoh’s jurisdiction when the early Jews were forced into slave labor.

Japan: Japan had an emperor who was mainly just a figurehead. The real power rested in the warlords or daimyo. These men governed their realms and were given political authority and superiority. The warriors or samurai came next because the daimyo needed them to fight the surrounding warlords. Samurai were given special privileges because of the advantageous and key role in the daimyo’s fight for power. Merchants and peasants were left below these two and had to bare a lot of the burden of society.


1. Slavery was not large in this time period however it was used by almost all of the river based sociteies since they were agriculturaly developed.
2. Because farming and growing food was highly laborous and required many people ised slaves as a form of cheap or free labor sources.
3. Slaves were treated with no freedoms and had no respect from people of society or the people that they worked ofr.
4. Out of all the subordinating class systems talked about, slavery was by far the worst in that the slves were trested terrible had did not get the splendor of their work.
5. Civilizations that used slavery in this time were Rome, Egypt, China, India (in the form of untouchables), and a Small bit in Africa.

Economic Inequality

1. Many of the classical societies used economic means of placing people in certain classes combined with other systems of inequality.

2. People developed class distinction based on their accumulation of wealth or monopoly on agricultural or specialized production.

3. Jobs were another form of societal groupings in that people with related or similar occupations were generally given the same position and status in society.

Examples of this system of inequality:

India: India’s caste system used occupational standards to determine class standings. Its core castes were the priests, warriors, merchants, peasants, and then the untouchables. Each of these classes had specific job descriptions and different forms of labor. Jati, or more specific castes, developed when the specialization of labor resulted in a wider variety of jobs.

China, Egypt, Japan, and Mesopotamia: Each of these societies used wealth and/or land ownership as a way to determine a person’s status. More land would generally mean more wealth and therefore a higher position in society. This basis of class distinction continues to affect modern societies and those in the world’s history.

Validated by Brittney Woods:
-Really well organized
-A lot of good info.
-Some pictures
-More detail on the caste system/ how it worked

VB Priscilla Fernandez
*very niformational.

-could use.
*more background info on the Caste system in general.
*info on each specific class's restrictions.
*what are the overall restictions they're being compared to?

Validated by Danielle Fowler