Mesopotamia and Egypt

Topics: Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Egypt Pages: 5 (1376 words) Published: May 7, 2014

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 was made up of a husband and a wife who was bound by a contract that stated that the wife would provide children, preferably male, and the husband would provide support and protection. If there was no male child, a second wife or slave could bear children to serve as the couple’s offspring. In families, sons would inherit the family’s property and the daughters would receive dowries. Priests were at the top of the social organization with the king because they lived in temples, which represented the cities’ power. Bureaucrats were at the top of the social structure underneath the main people of power because they were scribes. Mesopotamia was the world’s first city to keep records and read, developing a writing system. Writing became important to the development of cities and enabled people to share information across greater distances and over longer periods of time. Scribes played a significant role in developing a writing system that people anywhere and in the future could decipherer. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers served as major communication and transportation routes for Mesopotamia. The need for a system of record keeping developed because farmers and officials needed a way to keep track of the distribution of goods and services. It was important to keep track of goods and services because long-distance trade was very important to Mesopotamia since it lacked many raw materials that were crucial to developing the city. On the other hand, in Egypt, the social organization was similar to Mesopotamia, but differed just slightly. At the top was a Pharaoh or also called a king was the center of Egyptian life followed by priests, scribes, craftsmen, and lastly farmers and slaves. The Pharaoh was at the center of life and had the responsibility to ensure that flooding of the Nile River continued without interruption and had the responsibility to develop a vibrant economy. Egyptians believed that the Pharaoh was a descendant from the gods. Egypt had one...
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