Comparing and Contrasting Ancient Egypt and Ancient Mesopotamia In the ancient world, Egypt and Mesopotamia coexisted between 3000 and 2000 B.C.E. Throughout this essay, I will be comparing and contrasting these two prominent ancient civilizations. Both had many cultural and political differences between them. Although ancient Egypt and ancient Mesopotamia shared similarities in beliefs and agriculture, they differed greatly in afterlife and documentation.
Unlike the majority of today’s civilization who are monotheistic, the belief of one god, both the Sumerians and the Egyptians were polytheistic, the belief of many gods.
Sumerian religion was based around the worship of four life giving deities, the god of heaven, the goddess of earth, the god of air, and the god of water. In Egypt, there were around 2,000 recognized gods and goddesses, one being “Nun” also the god of water.
For the Egyptians and Mesopotamians, life revolved around rivers. The Egyptians depended on the Nile, whilst the Mesopotamians depended on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
All three rivers were sources of life. The rivers provided healthy hydration for each civilization. The water supported life, such as fish, providing a food source. When flooded, the rivers provided fertile soil, or silt. However, the Egyptians were blessed with the “Gift of the Nile” as the Nile flooded at the same time each year, while the Tigris and Euphrates’ floods were violent and unpredictable. Both civilizations utilized their rivers as irrigation systems.
Egyptians and Mesopotamians cherished the importance of many things, however they differed immensely in the way they approached death and afterlife. Mummification is globally known and has become somewhat of a “Halloween joke”, nonetheless the Egyptians saw the preservation of the body as a serious subject. The purpose of mummification was to maintain the human structure as much as possible, in order for the spirit to find its way back to its body. Egyptians were so enthralled with afterlife that they created small tunnels within the pyramids just big enough to allow only the spirit access in and out of burial chambers. The Sumerians lived a much more volatile existence. Their funerals were uncomplicated for their passage into the afterlife.
The Sumerians were one of the first peoples to develop a writing system. The name of their writing system, cuneiform, was named after the wedge shaped utensil. It was etched onto clay tablets, which were then fired in kilns to preserve the writing. The Egyptians developed a different system of writing called Hieroglyphics. It was a very different style of documenting history. The Egyptians wrote their information on papyrus created from reeds. Papyrus was cheaper and easier to produce than clay tablets. This resulted in a vaster amount of records kept by the Egyptians than the Mesopotamians. The differences in geography between the two civilizations led to the development of different writing technology.