AP World History
Perceptions of Gods
Deep in the region in the Arabian Desert is where two of the earliest civilizations resided. Their names are Egypt and Mesopotamia. These two societies resided near major rivers as their source of water for agriculture. Egypt developed into a self sufficient empire that entailed agriculture, social hierarchy, and religion. Mesopotamia used irrigation and developed cities with governments and formed new religious thoughts based off of the unknown. Their polytheistic religious beliefs became established around the period 3,000 B.C.E. Both Egypt and Mesopotamia believed in polytheism and ruled with theocracy; however their behavior towards the gods varied.
Mesopotamian and Egyptian were polytheistic. Polytheism means they believed in more than one god. For example, Babylonians of Mesopotamia believed in the gods Tiamat and Marduk. We know not just Babylon’s religious beliefs, but many Mesopotamian cultures gods because of historical writings such as the Epic of Gilgamesh. The Epic of Gilgamesh talks about Gilgamesh’s conquest for eternal life in which he encounters different gods. Egyptians had more than one god too. Some examples are the sun god, Re, the god of the afterworld, Osiris. Proof of their belief has been obtained from artifacts discovered in tombs and through hieroglyphs. Historians have obtained this information from artifacts discovered from tombs and through writings like the Book of the Dead. Mesopotamian gods were responsible for common elements such as, sky, wisdom and death. They were determined from not being able to reason why natural phenomena’s occurred so they figured gods were responsible. As well as being anthropomorphic they were invisible, which explained why people could not see them. Egyptians derived their gods from the environment and human ecology. Unlike Mesopotamia, Egypt’s gods were not all anthropomorphic. For example, Horus was the falcon god whose body was in human form with the head...
Cited: J.B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts, 3d ed. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1969)
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