Mesopotamia and Egypt

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The early civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt were very similar, but they were also different in some ways. Both Mesopotamia and Egypt developed their civilizations centered on rivers, but these rivers were polar opposites. Mesopotamia was between two rivers called the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Egypt’s civilization developed around the Nile River. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers differed from the Nile River. The Nile River was calm, and the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers were wild and very unpredictable. Since these rivers had opposite behaviors, Mesopotamia’s specialty was in irrigation, while Egypt was a more agricultural society. Mesopotamia and Egypt were very similar in their roots, but they also had distinctive forms of social organization and religious observance that developed because of the rivers that surrounded them.
Mesopotamia’s social organization was a way to differentiate between rulers and those who were commoners. Each city-state in Mesopotamia had elders and young men that made decisions for the community. Rulers protected their access to both political and economic resources by creating systems of bureaucracies, priesthoods, and laws. Priests and bureaucrats served their leaders well, defending and advocating rules and norms that validated the political leadership. Lists of professions were passed around so each person could know his or her place in the social order. The king and priest were at the top of the social structure followed by bureaucrats who were scribes, supervisors, and craft workers. The craft workers were jewelers, gardeners, potters, metal smiths, and traders; this was the largest group of the social structure. The craft workers were not slaves but they depended on their employer’s households. People rarely moved from one social level to another. Not only was there organization between society in general, but there was also specific organization between families. In families, the senior male became the patriarch. A family

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