The ancient Mesopotamia's created a government that was a combination of monarchy and democracy. The kingdoms of Sumer were organized into city-states and the Kings ruled each city-states for the gods. They were assisted by priests, scribes, and nobles. But before 3500 BC priests ruled Sumer. They attended the gods who really ruled.
One of the most famous priest-kings was Gilgamesh of Uruk.
The Sumerian priest-kings received advice from a General Assembly made up of free (elected) men. When war broke out, the Assembly would choose one of its members to serve as leaders until the war was over, but often these leaders stayed in power even when peace had returned. By about 3000 B. C., they took their place as permanent kings. Until 3000 BC kings were elected to a temporary ruling position only in times of crisis (war or famine). After 3000 BC the position of king was no longer an elected office, but was hereditary. They led armies and organized ceremonies to please their gods. The monarchy effectively held power over great areas of land and diverse peoples by having a large and efficient "middle management." This middle management, which consisted largely of priests, bore all the responsibility of surveying and distributing land as well as distributing crops. There was never a Sumerian empire. Power constantly shifted between cities.
The rulers, along with the high priest and leading officials, had the most responsibility of the city. Priests collected taxes, designed and supervised the building of irrigation canals, and decided cases of justice.
The Babylonian King Hammurabi made his 'Code' or collection of laws very successful. It was modeled on existing laws, but this was the largest law code assembled. The Code has 282 provisions which dealt with many aspects of life, including family rights, trade, slavery, tariffs, taxes, prices and wages. The Code tells us much about Babylonian society and is inscribed on a stone slab over 6ft high. At the top, the King is shown receiving laws from the Babylonian sun god, Shamash (a.k.a. Sumerian god Enlil). The laws are not the same for rich and poor, but the weak were given some protection against the tyranny of the strong. The Code was not the only law code in Mesopotamia, but the only one written in stone. The code was based on retribution, not justice and varied unfairly between social classes.
You gotta read some of these laws. Some of them are kind-of funny. Like if I went into a bar and got a drink, the law states I then need to be burned to death because I’m a woman. And then it got me wondering, how much has it changed in current Iraq? Is it still in the books that a woman needs to be burned for drinking alcohol?