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Origins of the first Unified State in Ancient Egypt, compare/contrast with Mesopotamia

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Origin of the First Unified State in Egypt and Mesopotamia
The rise of the ancient Kingdoms in the various parts of the world was a result of several factors that favored the development of such kingdoms (Heinz, pg23). The ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia are some of the examples of the ancient kingdoms that were established in the past and were successful at the time of establishment. There are some similarities and differences that are manifested in the process of the development of the ancient unified states in Egypt and Mesopotamia (Heinz, pg23). This paper discusses, compares and contrasts the rise of the ancient unified states in Egypt and Mesopotamia.
The development or the rise of the unified states in Mesopotamia and Egypt took place at the same time. Even though the developments were experienced during the same period in history, there were certain factors which resulted into the differences between the two states. Some of the factors included the natural forces and the environments in which the various states were located. These differences comprised of variations in the religion, political systems, and the social stability of the two states (Heinz, pg23).
The rise of the civilization ion both states occurred along great rivers. In Egypt, the civilization was experienced along the banks of River Nile. That indicates the role of the River Nile in the process of the development of the ancient Egyptian state (Wengrow, pg231). Apart from the fact that the time of development of the two states is a common aspect of the two states, the association of the two states with the rivers gives a stronger similarity between the two states.

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When Egypt developed along the banks of the River Nile, the ancient state of Mesopotamia developed along the Rivers Euphrates and Tigris (Wengrow, pg231). There were, therefore, several similarities and differences between the two ancient kingdoms or states.
In the two cases, the geography and the river valleys dictated or influenced the outcomes that affected the religious formation, agricultural prosperity, and the structures of the governments. As such, the geography and the nature and structures of the river valleys had a role to play in the development of the ancient unified states in both Egypt and Mesopotamia (Wengrow, pg231).
Similarities in Civilization and culture
Both Mesopotamia and Egypt established early forms of writing that started as pictograms. The early writing forms in both states were used mainly for the purposes of keeping records. The early writing was as a result of the agricultural revolution that necessitated the utilization of various writing forms (Kovacs, pg109). The writings were to be used in keeping agricultural records. In both the civilizations, various schools emerged. In those schools, boys could be educated as scribes. That formed an instrumental component of the structure of the ancient social class.
In addition, the civilizations in both Egypt and Mesopotamia engaged actively in trade, and the creation of commercially successful societies. The societies were always subjugated by the prosperous aristocracies. Further, the civilizations promoted an artisan and merchant class during that period (Kovacs, pg111) The similarities can be described as some of the characteristics of the cultural developments that were needed for the process of civilization in the ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt into unified states.
Role of Geography in both states
As discussed before, the roles played by the geography of the two states in the development of the kingdoms were similar in both cases. The two states experienced the influx of formerly nomadic individuals. That happened during the agricultural-revolution period. The rivers played a greater role in the development of both states. In Egypt, for instance, the Nile River helped in various ways. The first way was the fact that it provided water that was used in the process of irrigation (Kovacs, pg111). As such, it promoted agricultural activities along its banks. As more people engaged in various agricultural activities along the banks, more settlements were formed and towns were created along the banks. In addition, over flooding of the Nile deposited fertilizers on the lands along the banks of the River. That resulted into rich agricultural lands that ensured crops like barley and wheat were grown in surplus. The Nile River rose yearly and the yearly rise of the river ensured that the agricultural lands along its banks became more fertile. The rise was predictable and did not have adverse effects on the human activities along the river banks (Kovacs, pg111).
The first difference in the development of the two ancient states is evident from the fact that the rise of the Rivers Tigris and Euphrates never contributed to the enrichment of Mesopotamia. Instead, it led to the destructive floods. The floods killed people and livestock and destroyed the villages that were located along the river banks. That presents the first difference that was experienced during the development of the two states. When Mesopotamia suffered as a result of the destructive floods caused by the Rivers Tigris and the Euphrates, Egypt benefited from the over flooding of the River Nile that made the lands more fertile and agriculturally productive (Taylor & Francis, pg31). Even though the two states benefited from the water from the various rivers, one of the states suffered from the effects of overflowing of the rivers, while the other benefited from the effects.
The second difference that was experienced is that Egypt was stable as a state and protected from external attacks or threats by the natural barriers that it had around it. That made it prone to constant invasions by its neighbors. Because of that, state was stable and concentrated on agriculture and other development projects that contributed to the development of the unified ancient state (Tylor & Francis, pg31). Mesopotamia, however, was prone to attacks and invasions from all sides. It is because it was a vast exposed region. As the civilization process took place, new empires came into existence. The emergence of the new empires resulted into the Ancient Near-East being an unending battlefield. The constants battles that were experienced led to a slow pace of growth of Mesopotamia as an ancient unified state.
Political institutions
The other difference in the rise of the two ancient states is evident in the system of governance that was practiced. In the case of Egypt, the Pharaoh was the leader of the government (Taylor & Francis, pg31). The pharaoh was a semi-divine monarch. He was assisted by a military of bureaucrats, and a vizier. The continuance of prosperity was ensured by the powerful dynasties that controlled the state (Addy, pg123). The continuity could only be interrupted civil strife periods, or during the advent of external invasions in between the kingdom. Apart from these periods, the prosperity of the kingdom was continued by the influence of the powerful dynasties that ruled the state headed by the Pharaoh.
Mesopotamia, on the other hand, began as a group of many antonymous city states. The states had their own self-governments. The various states competed for power for a long period of time. The struggle continued until the 2370 BCE. It was during that period that the Middle East had the first unified state (Addy, pg123). The state was unified under the leadership of Sargon-the-Great. However, that was not to last for long. When the Akkad fell, various dominant groups conquered the state. They included the Amorites, the Hittites, the Kassites, and the Assyrians. The long politically unity that was to be experienced in the region later was as a result of the efforts made by Cyrus-the-Great. He did that by establishing the Persian Empire.
That indicated the fact that unlike Egypt, Mesopotamia had to undergo a lot of struggle before it could finally be established as a unified state (Addy, pg123). When Egypt was led and ruled by the Pharaohs, Mesopotamia experienced constant leadership and power struggles between the various groups in the state. That could have contributed to a slower rate of growth of Mesopotamia as a unified ancient state.
Religious differences
The religious awareness in the ancient times had a close link with the environment, and nature (Sparks, pg47). The fact that Egypt benefited more from the Nile River with little or no negative effects from the activities of the River, it was considered as the best beneficiary of the Nile. As such, it was referred to as the Nile gift. As opposed to the Rivers Euphrates and the Tigris that contributed to the destruction of the villages. Death of human beings, and animals, the overflowing the River Nile in Egypt had positive effects in the state. It is because when it overflowed, it never led to the loss of lives or destruction of property. As discussed before, the over flooding led to the deposition of fertilizers on the banks of the River (Gardiner, pg12). Because of that, the river was more resourceful to the individuals in ancient Egypt. Since the River was more beneficial to the people as compared to the Rivers Euphrates and Tigris, the success was attributed to the power of the Egyptian gods. As such, there was a belief on the influence of the gods in the success and the profitable nature of the Nile River to the Egyptians. That made the gods to reflect a positive religion and emphasized on the life after death. That only changed later as the fortunes changed with time for the Egyptians.
In contrast, the Mesopotamian religion was always gloomy and bleak (Gardiner, pg12). The ancient prayers that were made by the individuals in Mesopotamia to their gods indicate a poor relationship with the goddesses and the gods. The deities viewed the humans as individuals who lacked faith in them. The people also viewed the gods as responsible for the calamities they faced. The calamities included the deaths that were caused by the over flooding of the various rivers that were used in irrigation.
Unlike their Egyptian counterparts who had more benefits from the Nile River and attributed the positive effects to their gods, the people of Mesopotamia were negatively affected by the rivers and had poor relationships with the deities (Addy, pg123). The gods seldom sent misfortunes to the humans and viewed them with a lot of suspicion.
That belief had an influence on the process of development of the unified state in the country or region. The Epic of Gilgamesh is an indication of the relationship that existed between the individuals in Mesopotamia and their goddesses and gods (Addy, pg123).
The only exception was the Hebrews who had a God who could be destructive and vengeful, but had several covenants with the humans. The chosen people of the Hebrew God made many covenants with him (Addy, pg123). He promised them redemption and a Messiah that was to save them from the sinful nature of man and establish a kingdom that was founded on the principles of Justice. The Hebrew prophets, therefore, talked about both the love and the anger of the deity.
This paper has critically looked at the similarities and the differences that existed between the civilizations in the ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The two states were developed along river banks and their development is attributed to the agricultural revolution. Also, the early writing forms that involved the utilization of pictograms was a common trend in both Mesopotamia and Egypt (Sparks, pg47). The development and the creation of the commercially successful societies or communities in the two states is another similarity that was exhibited in the establishment of the ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The two states also engaged in trade.
There are some differences discussed in the paper. The religious, political, and geographical differences are some of the differences that were observed between the two states in the civilization process. The differences and similarities that are outlined in the establishment of the two ancient unified states indicate that even though the two were established at the same time or period, they could not be completely identical (Sparks, pg47).
Addy, John. The Agrarian Revolution. London: Longman, 2010. Print.
Gardiner, Alan H. Egypt of the Pharaohs; an Introduction. Oxford: Clarendon, 2014. Print.
Kovacs, Maureen Gallery. The Epic of Gilgamesh. 2nd ed. Vol. 3. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford UP, 2013. 34-56. Print.
Sparks, Kenton L. Ancient Texts for the Study of the Hebrew Bible: A Guide to the Background Literature. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2012. Print.
Heinz, Smith. The development of Ancient Cities and Kingdoms. NY. 2ND ed. Vol. 4. New York, SAGE, 2011. 23-37. Print.Taylor & Francis. Early Civilizations Of The Old World the Formative Histories of Egypt, the Levant, Mesopotamia, India and China., 2001. Print.
Wengrow, D. What Makes Civilization?: The Ancient Near East and the Future of the West. 1st ed. Vol. 1. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. 231-236. Print.

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