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Egypt and Mesopotamia: Similarities and Differences in Religion

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Egypt and Mesopotamia: Similarities and Differences in Religion

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Most societies that developed in ancient civilizations were centered around their belief systems. The Egyptians and the Mesopotamians were no different in this sense. Both civilizations were polytheistic and built elaborate temples to praise their gods. Additionally, the leaders in both regions were believed to be related to the gods because of the great power they held and the wealth under their control. However, the Mesopotamians had a pessimistic outlook on life because of the unpredictability of their environment. The Egyptians, on the other hand, had an optimistic outlook because the Nile River inundated their region regularly, which could be predicted by the stars. The similarities and differences in the religions of these two regions may be attributable to the relative geographical isolationism of the two areas, which allowed them to develop without the influence of outside cultures.

Both ancient cultures built sophisticated monuments to praise their gods. The Egyptians constructed a vast network of impressive temples to honor their many gods, each of which had an elite staff of priests whose job was to care for the temple and the gods. One of the most prominent temples was Abu Simbel, which was carved out of the side of a cliff and had four giant statues of Ramses, the “Alexander the Great” of Egypt, guarding the entrance. Another notable example was the mortuary temple of King Khufu at Giza, which had polished limestone floors and ornately painted columns. The Mesopotamians built ziggurats to glorify their gods, which were considered “stairways to heaven.” One of the most famous ziggurats was the enormous, complex structure built at Ur which reached up to almost 100 feet. It was erected to honor the moon goddess Nanna, the divine patron of the city state. The gods were central to both cultures and, as a result, much time was devoted to constructing and maintaining their monuments.

The importance of the gods in their cultures was also...