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The Ancient Near East: Civilization of Mesopotamia and Great Flood Essay

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Building the Civilization of Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia is a wide concept that includes a range of cultures such as Assyrians, Akkadians, Sumerians, and Babylonians. History shows that these civilizations were successful due to the fortunate location, developed culture, and trading ways. The flooding of Tigris and Euphrates rivers between which Mesopotamia was located promoted innovations in irrigation projects so that banks and rivers might supply crops (Freeman, 2014).

The role of rivers was essential as they provided not only drinking water and water for agricultural needs but also were the focus of control. The ancient civilizations often conflicted for living near rivers and using them as a means of easy transportation. Agriculture allowed populations to grow and societies to become more specialized in various fields.

The Akkadian Empire was known for its language that is related to the Semitic group – Hebrew and Arabic. Writing promoted the creation of literary works that depicted Akkadian gods, religion, and the mode of life. More to the point, writing contributed to trading with other cultures, and all the products, sales, and other important points were documented (Fagan & Scarre, 2016). During king Sargon’s government, the Akkadians significantly improved trading across Mesopotamia.

The economy of the Empire was also strengthened due to the implementation of rain-fed agriculture that led to increased harvest, which was also supported by benign climatic conditions. Sargon created the state the power in which completely belonged to him and was to be inherited by his sons (Fagan & Scarre, 2016). In other words, he concentrated on great economic power, which is one more component of the success of this civilization. The king could contain significant troops to suppress internal revolts and to conduct an aggressive foreign policy.

Buildings may be regarded as one more component of the successful civilizations of Mesopotamia. They demonstrated the power and served as defense, while enemies destroyed buildings even though there was no need to, as stated by Freeman (2014). The Akkadians were the first who conquered southern Mesopotamia in approximately 2330 BC. They had weapons and wheels for the transportation of warriors and special equipment. By conquering other areas of Mesopotamia, Akkadians planned to create a cosmopolitan population and their texts are more representative of this fact compared to artifacts (Fagan & Scarre, 2016).

For example, there are tales and legends about wars and their results along with detailed descriptions. Accordingly, the confiscation of wealth from the local population may be considered one more source of the successful Akkadian Empire. Thus, among the components of the successful development of Mesopotamian civilization, especially that of the Akkadian Empire, was a fortunate location near rivers, a benign climate, agricultural innovations, writing and language development, strong trading and economy, and conquests.

Examining the Great Flood in Genesis and the Epic of Gilgamesh

The Great Flood in Genesis and the Epic of Gilgamesh both depict the flood, the boat, the God of gods, and persons responsible for preserving humanity. The main setting of the stories is similar: streams of rain fell on the ground, flooded it, and destroyed all living things, except those people and animals that Noah-Utnapishtim managed to take with them (Genesis 6:5–7, King James version). After a long voyage, the boat, according to the Bible, stops at Mount Ararat, and, in the epic, at the mountain Nisir.

Both release birds so they can find the land; after this, the rescued begin a new life. The central message of both works is that the flood had a historical, dogmatic, and moral significance. According to the Book of Genesis and the Epic of Gilgamesh, the flood came as divine retribution for the moral fall of mankind (as cited in Carnahan, 1998). God (gods) decided to destroy all humanity, leaving only the righteous Noah and his family alive.

Along with the key message, the identified texts have many common aspects. The construction of a multi-decked compartmentalized boat, the use of ravens and doves to understand whether the flood was over or not (Genesis 8:6–12), and the great rain that covered the whole Earth may be noted among the most prominent similarities. After the flood and successful salvation, both Noah and Utnapishtim offered sacrifices to God and Gilgamesh respectively (Genesis 8:21).

The differences between the given literary pieces are also evident. The Noahic flood resulted from rain that lasted for 40 days and some water emerged from beneath the Earth, while Utnapishtim encountered a storm that lasted only six days (Genesis 7:12). When the flood was over, Noah received a blessing and was called to populate the Earth, and Utnapishtim received eternal life (Carnahan, 1998).

One more difference is associated with the religious aspect as the Epic of Gilgamesh is polytheistic and the story of Noah has a Judaic-Christian connotation. Even though certain differences exist between the mentioned accounts, the key message remains consistent and clear and is not negated. The similarities of the given texts may be considered by some people as the foundation for doubting God’s Word and the divinity of the Bible since they may assume that the story was taken from Sumerians (Norsker, 2015). On the other hand, the differences may be regarded as proof of God’s Word that was carefully preserved and then documented by Moses.

References

The Bible, King James version, Book 1: Genesis by anonymous. (n.d.). Web.

Carnahan, W. (1998). . (M. G. Kovacs, Trans.). Web.

Fagan, B. M., & Scarre, C. (2016). Ancient civilizations. (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Freeman, C. (2014). Egypt, Greece, and Rome: Civilizations of the ancient Mediterranean (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Norsker, A. (2015). Genesis 6, 5-9, 17: A rewritten Babylonian flood myth. Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament, 29(1), 55-62.

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IvyPanda. "The Ancient Near East: Civilization of Mesopotamia and Great Flood." July 8, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-ancient-near-east-civilization-of-mesopotamia-and-great-flood/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "The Ancient Near East: Civilization of Mesopotamia and Great Flood." July 8, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-ancient-near-east-civilization-of-mesopotamia-and-great-flood/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'The Ancient Near East: Civilization of Mesopotamia and Great Flood'. 8 July.

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