Comparison of Mesopotamia and North Africa

Topics: Marriage, Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt Pages: 6 (1191 words) Published: September 28, 2014

“In what ways were the civilizations of Mesopotamia and North Africa alike? In what ways were they different? What accounts for the similarities and differences?”

Elizabeth Emswiler

History 114
Dr. Norris
August 21, 2014
The geography of Mesopotamia and North Africa (from now on referred to as Egypt) are very similar. Within those similarities are a few differences in the way the two civilizations dealt with and the land. Both civilizations lived near rivers that tended to flood and enrich the soil. Mesopotamia centered on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and dealt with the flooding by building large-scale irrigation and drainage ditches with the intervention of the state. Egypt, however, lived by the Nile River and used irrigation without the help of the state. The flooding in both civilizations enriched the soil making it great for farming. The major difference between Mesopotamia and Egypt is in security. Egypt had natural barriers in the North, South, East and West which protected it from invasion and gave a sense of isolation. Mesopotamia on the other hand had no barriers so they had to build walls around their cities which were prone to constant invasion. Empires and Kingdoms

A major difference between these two civilizations is in the history of their rulers. Mesopotamia created city-states which would go to war with each other, making them susceptible to invasion. First they were invaded by the Akkadians then the Amorites and many others. Egypt was able to stay secure for 400-500 years at a time with only a few interruptions from other civilizations due to their natural barriers. Even those times of insecurity only lasted about 100 years before the Egyptians overthrew their conquerors and replaced their sense of security. Economy

The economy of Egypt and Mesopotamia are very similar because of their geography. Since they both lived near water, the soil was very healthy and perfect for agriculture. Commerce and industry eventually became important to these civilizations as well. Both nations used trade to get goods from other areas. The Mesopotamians traded for copper, tin and timber and the Egyptians traded for wood, ivory, incense and spices. Society

Society in Mesopotamia and Egypt had similarities and differences. In Mesopotamia the city-states “contained four major social groups: elites, dependent commoners, free commoners, and slaves.”1 The elites included the officers and their families. The dependent commoners tended to work for the palace and temples. The free commoners were farmers, fishers, merchants, craftspeople, and scribes. Finally, the slaves belonged to the palace officials, temple officials, and rich landowners who used them for work that no one else wanted to do. The society in Egypt was structured in this way: god-king, nobles and priests, merchants and artisans, then serfs. The ruling class of the god-king, nobles, and priests ran the government. The merchants and artisans made up the middle class and engaged in trade not only along the Nile, but internationally as well. The serfs simply worked the land and in times of need “provided military service and forced labor for building projects.”2 Kingship and Religion

Mesopotamia and Egypt both had Kings and were very religious. In Mesopotamia, the kings were considered divine in origin; they received their power from the gods and acted out their will. Egyptian kings, called Pharaohs, possessed ‘absolute power’ but ruled according to set principles. The ideas of truth, justice, right order, and harmony were given to them from a spiritual precept called Ma’at, their chief principle. The Mesopotamian view of the universe was largely due to the physical environment. The harsh weather convinced the Mesopotamians that the world was in the control of ‘gods’. The Epic of Gilgamesh explains the feelings of hopelessness due to the weather:


Cited: Coon, Dennis and Mitterer, John O. Psychology: Modules for Active Learning, 12th ed. Boston: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2012
Duiker, William J. and Spielvogel, Jackson J. World History, 7th ed. Boston: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2013
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