Compare And Contrast Ancient Egypt And Mesopotamia

Submitted By rugrat1126
Words: 1096
Pages: 5

Unit Reaction #1 It is unmistakable that modern civilization assimilated and built upon pieces of both ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian culture. It is also evident that the two early civilizations were very similar in some ways, yet vastly different in others. Important similarities include the fact that both early Egypt and early Mesopotamia founded their own writing styles which still survive today. Also, although each cultures style and purpose was quite different, Egypt and Mesopotamia both built pyramids. As for differences, Mesopotamia was created as a walled city while Egypt was open, and while Egyptian culture centered on religion, Mesopotamia focused on centralized politics. While each of these differences is important, one of the most important differences was in their interpretations of the afterlife. The Mesopotamians are credited with creating one of the earliest forms of writing called cuneiform. It was a system that used wedge-shaped marks as signs, and different shapes stood for different items. Their system made it possible to keep inventory of their possessions, trade, and inscribe laws for all to follow. As part of this system, they used clay tokens sealed in clay envelopes as a form of record keeping. Such a system shows the technological advances this culture was able to make. When a transaction took place, the sender would stamp symbols indicating how many tokens were enclosed. If there were four markings on the outside then there were four tokens inside. Ancient Egypt was also credited with an early form of writing called hieroglyphics. Their system consisted primarily of pictures that represented words and sounds. Egyptians used hieroglyphs to conduct day to day business, document events in their society, and decorate the walls of their temples. Each society was ahead of its time in the area of construction. Both built pyramids, although they were used for different purposes. Early Mesopotamians built pyramids called ziggurats that were constructed of dry mud bricks; mainly because they did not have a source of stone like the Egyptians. Temples were often built at the top of a ziggurat because Mesopotamians believed the pyramid structure was a staircase connecting heaven and earth. Priests would hold prayer at the top of the temple. For them, this was a direct link between man and god. Unlike the Mesopotamian ziggurats, Egyptian pyramids were built of limestone that was abundant in the Nile region. Egyptian pyramids were built to bury their dead kings and pharaohs. These pyramids were built from the outside in; one room led to another room deeper inside the pyramid. When a pharaoh died, his people would fill the pyramid with everything that he needed in this life because he would surely need it in the next. They believed the pharaoh was directly descended from the gods, and he was treated as such. Even after death, citizens would come to the pyramids to continue worshiping the pharaoh. It was truly a religious symbol. Unlike Mesopotamia, Egypt disregarded the idea of city-states. Egyptian cities were un-walled, administrative centers, serving the will of the pharaoh. (Nagel, 19) Egypt was an agricultural society, and because the Nile provided rich soil after flooding and a means to irrigate the fields, Egyptians settled there where farming was plentiful. In sharp contrast, the Mesopotamian civilization chose to build walls around its city-states to be protected from outside forces. They were independent and self-sufficient. Egyptians valued family and children and were religious oriented and regarded these as important factors in their daily lives. In Mesopotamia, women were not thought of as equals to men, but that was not the case in Egypt where women were considered equal to men in many ways. Mesopotamia emphasized social stratification with an upper class and lower class; the lowest order being slaves. Mesopotamians had to build political relationships