English Composition 1002
Ancient Cultures: Greece and Egypt
The ancient Egyptian and ancient Greek civilizations are two of the oldest known civilizations in our history. The Egyptians lived in the eastern part of North Africa, around 3000 BC and continued till the end of the Pharaoh rule in 31 BC (Grimal 27). On the other hand, the ancient Greek civilization is believed to have been in effect from 1100 BC till about 146 BC (Thomas 27). Due to differences in geography, both these civilizations had exposure to different kinds of exposure, which included contact with other civilization and cultural inheritance. In the political sphere, the Egyptian civilization had stronger emphasis on central authority, while the Greeks had a more decentralized structure, where power was distributed over the cities and the states as well. In art, we find that the Egyptians were more involved in creating great monumental and gaudy structures, while the Greeks were more focused in creating smaller, more literary pieces of art (Greenberg). Despite the differences in geography, there are many more commonalities between the Greek and Egyptian culture, politics, and religion.
At the base of both the Greek and Egypt religion are creation myths which explain the start of many events such as the origin of the world and the creation of human beings. The Greek creation myth begins with chaos which separates into Gaea (earth), Eros (love), and Tartarus (Underworld). Gaea spawns the early elementals and the first “gods,” titans. Cronus “the youngest and most terrible” titan, imprisons his father Uranus and with Rhea births the second generation of gods, including Zeus. Cronus is killed at the hands of Zeus, who claims the throne as king of gods (Grant). Similarly, the Egyptian creation myth also began in the waters of chaos, where darkness and silence reigned until the spirit of the Creator, Ra, brought up a mound of earth. “This mound was the first land and at last there was a place in which the spirit of the Creator could take on a body.” Ra fathers Osiris who with Isis fathers Horus. When Osiris is killed by Seth, Horus avenges his father and reclaims the throne (Harris 18, 41). In both Egyptian and Greek mythology the world starts in chaos and then the gods bring order. One reason for the similarities in the myths is their roots in Mesopotamian culture and religion. Both the Egyptians as well as the Greeks place a lot of importance to death and the afterlife. They were constantly being reminded about death and were very afraid of their fate after death.
The Ancient Egyptians believed that there was more to life than just the life on earth. Much of their architecture, including the pyramids and the houses they built were based on strict rules of mathematics and geography. They used mathematics to build the dwellings in very symmetrical designs. It has been noted that the numbers pi and phi have been greatly incorporated in the building and design of Ancient Egyptian architecture (Greenberg). Researchers have noted that dividing the perimeter of the dwellings made by Ancient Egyptians by their height gives a close approximation to 2pi, which is the same result one would get if one were to divide the circumference of a circle by its radius. This suggests that maybe the ancient Egyptians were trying to emulate the spherical nature of the Earth by presenting this relation (Smith et al).
These design techniques show that the Ancient Egyptians built their dwellings very symmetrically. It has also been noted by research that symmetrical dwellings tend to create harmony in its structure. This also allows the residents to remain in harmony amongst each other. One of the things that is also common, are the dwellings structure of all three ancient civilization is the use of landscaping. The use of gardens was considered to be very important. “As early as the 3rd millennium B.C., the Egyptians planted gardens within the walled