Mesopotamia And Egypt


Mesopotamia And Egypt Essay, Research Paper

Mesopotamia and Egypt

The source of the many differences between Mesopotamia and

Egypt can be found in the

geographic locations of these civilizations. Egypt,

protected by natural barriers on all sides,

remained uninfluenced for many years. Not many other

civilizations came in contact with the

Egyptian people. Thus, they developed much differently

politically and socially compared to

Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia was constantly invaded by

foreigners who would incorporate their

culture into their newly conquered society and form a new

one by force. It is no surprise then

that the two civilizations would end up with completely

different ideas about the world.

Egypt s social structure consisted of the pharaoh,

priests, farmers, merchants, and

craftsmen. The pharaoh was the God-King . Not only did he

govern Egypt, but he was an

immortal (or a god). Pharaohs were believed to be gods who

had chosen to live on earth for a

time. These immortal men were highly respected by Egyptian

people because of their godly

powers. The pharaoh s will was law, and his wisdom

all-knowing (Adler,1996,26). Because

the gods spoke through the pharaoh, his regulations and laws

were to be carried out without

question. Otherwise the gods would cease to smile upon

Egypt .

Priests were important to Egyptians but were not

terribly powerful (like they were in

Mesopotamia). They merely enforced religious beliefs and

helped the king when he was

unpopular. The Free tenant farmers, who worked on estates

owned by a landowner or

government official, constituted the majority of the

population. These farmers worked on this

granted land in order to provide service to the crown (the

pharaoh). Their life, like the Egyptians

of higher and lower classes, was extremely stable and

predictable. They usually resided in

crowded villages that stretched across the Nile River. In

these villages, the merchants and

craftsmen could also be found, but Egypt had no real cities.

The capital cities in Egypt served as

royal palaces for the wealthy or for social entertainment.

The majority of the population had

nothing to do with these cities, except to act as a labor

force. Unlike many other civilizations, the

cities of Egypt were not used as major trade or control

centers among villages. Trade and

commerce were of little importance to Egyptians.

On the other hand, Mesopotamia was a huge collection

of many cultures. Numerous

amounts of foreigners invaded and forced their beliefs and

ideas upon the Mesopotamians. All of

this cultural influence produced many rapid changes and

caused extreme instability. Rulers were

not gods, were not as well respected, and had to fight for

their control. Mesopotamians did not

experience the security that Egyptians had. The economy way

under constant stress because of

the taxes needed to support an army. Armies were of extreme

importance in order to prevent

further invasions and to squelch frequent rebellions that

occurred. The isolated Egyptians never

had to raise an army or set any heavy taxes. Mesopotamians

though, because of the number of

invaders, had many cities and trade centers. The variety of

people within the cities produced

many cultural achievements and advances. They had well

developed road systems to improve

communication and enforce government control in surrounding

villages. They, under the

Phoenicians, developed a water-based trade system that

reached as far as Great Britain. By sea,

they traded information, dyes, and metals such as copper and

iron. Because of their exposure to

many different ideas, Mesopotamians were very influential

in the ancient world and are still


As for the Egyptians, their ideas vanished with the

disappearance of their civilizations.

Their natural barriers separated them from the harsh

realities around them. They were stable and

were not subjected to invasions by foreigners for many

centuries. This provided a false sense of

security. They took very little measures to prevent a

disastrous invasion from occurring. Egypt

was not prepared militarily; they had little trained

soldiers and very few advanced weapons.

Egyptians trusted that the gods were responsible for their

long reign without any outside threats.

They believed that the Gods smiled on Egypt , and they also

took this to mean that they were

superior to any other cultures. The only real people were

Egyptian people and anyone else was

considered inferior. This egotistical view resulted in a

limited trade of knowledge because

foreigners had little to offer the superior Egyptians.

Thus, they did not advance scientifically,

mathematically, or militarily like the Mesopotamians had.

This feeling of superiority eventually

resulted in their defeat when invaders finally did come.

The experiences of the Mesopotamians and Egyptians

were very different because of their

location. Egyptians viewed the world as perfect and safe

because they had never experienced the

traumatic invasions that the Mesopotamians did. Egyptian

life was comfortable and unchanging

with very few threatening situations. Mesopotamians

experience much change and instability.

They had no true identity because of the many new

influences. They were constantly worried

about their security and the world, to them, was not a

peaceful place. However, their experiences

prepared them for the them for survival in the future, while

Egypt s failure to adjust to a new

situation lead to their demise. Mesopotamian views can

still be found today and Egyptian views

disappeared along with their superiority in Egypt.

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