Egypt and Mesopotamia had brilliant developments politically, socially and scientifically. Both are referred to as the “The River Civilizations”. This piece is informational as it exposes the similarities and differences between Mesopotamia and Egypt.
Egypt, as we all know it, still exists as one of the most ancient civilizations attributed to the beautiful pyramids of Giza. Mesopotamia, on the other hand, is an ancient kingdom comprised of ancient cities like Babylon, Uruk, and Assur.
Mesopotamia is the old region now known as the Middle East, also known as the western part of Asia. It is generally considered one of the cradles of Civilization due to the number of innovations that came into existence from the societies in the region.
It is situated within the Tigris-Euphrates River. It was credited as one of the riverine areas where writing started. Cities such as Uruk, Babylon, and Assur were all part of the old Mesopotamia empire.
Mesopotamia is translated to mean “Between Rivers”. The Mesopotamia Empire was ruled by kings with the Assyrians and Babylonians being the ones dominating the country. Innovations such as Mathematics, Astronomy, Agriculture, and the invention of wheels all came from the empire known as Mesopotamia.
The kingdom of Mesopotamia according to history ended in the 6th Century BC or 7th Century AD, due to its conquest by the establishment of the caliphate. Mesopotamia is said to cut across present-day Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
It is also believed to encompass Iran and Kuwait. It can thereby be said that it covers most parts of modern-day Middle Eastern countries.
The civilization that came to be the ancient Egyptian civilization sprouted in the valleys of the Nile, which was bordered by some of the harshest deserts.
Initially, about three thousand years before the emergence of Christ, the Nile River was home to a number of relatively competitive kingdoms under different rulers. These kingdoms relied majorly on upon, if not solely, the Nile River for all of their sustenance- food and water.
After several centuries of adjustments and endurance, Egyptian civilization became unified under the rulership of old kingdom Pharaohs. The Pharaohs were considered gods with power over the sustenance giving river Nile.
They presided over the most orderly and serene state in the cosmos and governed on the philosophy of ma’at- which means balance.
The Egyptian civilization was attributed to a strong believe and fear in the gods, with the sun god being the most revered. It was believed that upon the deaths of Pharaohs, they joined the sun god in his daily journey through the heavens, and supported him with jewels and riches to make this journey an easy one for them.
Evidently, the pyramids of Giza are a living testament to this old civilization. Built-in honour of Pharaoh Khufu and other kings.
Now that the descriptions of both civilizations have been made, it is important to delve into the similarities and differences between Mesopotamia and Egypt which exists in history.
SIMILARITIES BETWEEN MESOPOTAMIA AND EGYPT
Egyptian Hieroglyphics is one of the oldest forms of writing and recording is known in history. The writing is dated as far back as 3400 BC and 3600 BC and was uncovered after several centuries in the forms of inscriptions and paintings on the body of pottery vessels, bones, and Ivory tags, as well as clay, seals impressions at Abydos, about 300 miles south of Cairo.
The first forms of pictographic and logographic symbols uncovered on the bodies of these objects represented specific places, objects, and quantities known in subjects like mathematics, geography and the sciences.
Nonetheless, archaeologists have posited that ideas and concepts of writing originated from the Mesopotamian dynasties in this era. According to them, these writings and hieroglyphs evolved from Sumerian cuneiform writings of Mesopotamia, and due to interactions of civilizations, these forms of writing were adopted in ancient Egypt.
This is because, between 8000 BC and 3000 BC, Mesopotamia evolved step by step data processing using clay counters of many shapes and symbols. In fact, tokens were used to count in early agricultural communities, and just like writing, they served as an accounting mechanism.
Similarities and differences between Mesopotamia and Egypt cannot be accurate without mention of the system of writings. Both civilizations interacted in history, and so there was an exchange of knowledge and ideas.
● CLASS STRUCTURES
Mesopotamia and Egypt had a similar structure of society. The concept of classism existed in both civilizations. People were either free-born or slaves. Freeborn enjoyed all the rights the state conferred upon them. Slaves had no rights and most times served a master who may or may not on discretion emancipate them.
Similarly, both civilizations were heralded by uneven wealth distribution. Noblemen and their household own wealth enjoyed a level of influence, affluence, and freedoms, and held some of the prestigious positions of authority both in the civil service. There were priests too who oversaw all religious activities, owned lots of properties and lands, were respected in the countries for their closeness to the gods and had several slaves as servants.
● POLITICAL STRUCTURE
During the metal ages, both civilizations were small kingdoms under separate kings. As centuries flew by, these kings began to spread their reach of governance by conquering territories and establishing empires. As territories increased, there was a need for unified political structures. Like Egypt with an overlord- Pharaoh, Mesopotamia had an equivalent ruler.
Another key similarity is the creation of state structures by both nations that assured and secured certain dominance and authority over the lands. For provinces the throne could not oversee directly, governors were appointed by the emperors.
The governors handled matters of administration and military functions in their designated provinces. Civil servants were also appointed to carry out documentation, tax collection, and reading functions.
To ease and less complicate people’s interactions in these countries, codes and laws were established to govern the citizenry.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MESOPOTAMIA AND EGYPT
● GEOGRAPHY AND ECONOMY
Mesopotamia was settled between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Fertile Crescent. Most of their old territories now fall under the new nations of Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Majorly Mesopotamia ran its economy on agriculture and ran cross country agricultural trades to promote the prosperity of the people.
Egypt on the other hand, settled along the Nile River in Egypt. The nation is pretty much within the same territory as it was back in history. The nation was run on agriculture. Barter trades were made with other civilizations for supplies needed in the state. Another major source of revenue was taxation. Scribes were charged with the very function of collecting taxes and keeping records in the country.
The Mesopotamian empire came to be a unified entity after several wars and conquers and political restructure and leadership. Mesopotamia was initially an empire divided into two major regions- the Assyrians of the Northern Mesopotamia (Assyria) and the Akkadians and Sumerians of Southern Mesopotamia.
All through Mesopotamian history, power tussles and alternations existed between the groups of people. The Sumerians dominated the territories of Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium BC. By 2330 BC, King Sargon from Akkadia conquered most of the territories up until 2200 BC when they were conquered and disrupted. This was followed by several years of division, until 1800 BC when the Babylonians came and established a lasting empire.
Ancient Egypt on the other hand, had itself divided into two major regions- upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. These two regions were unified into a single kingdom in 3100 BC by King Menna who established himself as the first pharaoh.
Another significant feature of Egyptian history is its division into three long eras. Vizi;
✔ The Old Empire (3100 BC – 2200 BC): Around these years, the different Pharaohs; Khufu; Khafra; and Menkaura ordered the construction of the great pyramids.
✔ The Middle Empire (2100 BC – 1800 BC): The pharaohs of this time conquered Nubia on the southern side of Egypt.
✔ The New Empire (1600 BC – 1100 BC): Egypt conquered Palestine and Syria and extended their territories to the east during this era under the leadership of Pharaoh Thutmose I and Rameses I.
The Egyptians created beautiful architecture like the pyramids and Sphinx. They invented hieroglyphics as their system of writing and established advanced medicine and solar science. Egyptians also created the solar calendar.
The Mesopotamians had beautiful architecture such as ziggurats and established the first writing system in history in history called the Cuneiform. They also advanced the art of sculpting and building tools like wheels and sails with bronze and metals.
The article summarily adduced some of the key attributes, similarities, and differences which existed in the Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations. It captured most beautifully, the foundations of origin, science, philosophy, and political structure upon which these civilizations were built and more importantly, it notes the core achievements of both nations.