The development of Mesopotamia and Egyptian are river valley civilizations similar in their development along rivers. Mesopotamia was founded along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Middle East while Egypt was founded along the Nile River in North-East Africa. Many historians agree that people in these civilizations settled in the river valleys because of the need for drinking water for humans and animals, irrigation water, fishing, and transport.
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The current essay is an attempt to look at the similarities as well as great differences among Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations. This will be achieved by looking at their forms of government, language, and religion. The Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilization are more similar than they are different.
Mesopotamia was governed by a temple priest who had all the powers earlier. Latter, commanders gained permanent control of the armies. On the other hand, Egypt was ruled by Pharaohs who were god-kings and acted as representatives of the gods to their subjects. The Egyptian government was ruled by religion (Theocracy). The social structures of Mesopotamia and Egypt were similar in the fact that they both had broad social class systems with many tiers of power. There was a difference of governance as Mesopotamia was governed through numerous independently-run City-States, while a centralized government led by Pharaoh ruled Egypt.
Egypt and Mesopotamia were similar as they shared an extensive social class system. Their social classes had many tiers of power. The social structure was usually composed of nobles or wealthy landowners at the top of the class while peasants and slaves dominated the lower levels of the class. Powerful priestly groups also occupied top levels in the social class. The Code of Hammurabi shows an example of the social classes in Mesopotamia. Although the code was applicable to the whole class, complete fairness between the different levels of social class was lacking.
Even though Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia were similar they also showed many differences. For example, Egypt accentuated a powerful central government, while numerous independent regional city-states characterized Mesopotamian politics. Egyptians used a hieroglyphic form of writing which was characterized by pictorials on Rosetta stone (“History: Ancient Egypt” par.4). Mesopotamians used wedged-shaped writing known as cuneiform. Although Mesopotamian art focused on smaller structures, it espoused a distinct literary aspect that was missing in Egyptian art.
The two civilizations cultural differences had a similar approach to religion as they believed in many gods (polytheism). However, there were some major differences in their religious beliefs. For example, Mesopotamians described gods as having human characteristics. They did not believe in the afterlife but believed that dead souls went to the land of no return. Enlil the god of clouds and air was considered the most powerful god in Mesopotamia. Egyptians believed in life after death.
They believed that Osiris (god of the dead) weighed the heart of the dead to determine where the dead would go. If the heart was lighter than a feather, then it would go to a happy place. A heavier heart would make a person go to the devourer of souls. People were buried with their possessions that they would need to start life in their new worlds. Pharaohs were the representatives of gods in Egypt (“History: Ancient Egypt” par.7).
In conclusion, both the Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations accentuated social stratification. The nobles, wealthy landowners, and priests occupied the top of the class while the bottom was for the peasants and slaves. Both civilizations, in the end, left a vital heritage in their area and nearby regions. Several civilization centers began from the momentum of Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations.