Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt are both cradles of civilization. Both contributed greatly to human development through their achievements, failures, peoples, scientific accomplishments, philosophies, religions, and contributions.
Mesopotamia is a rich flat plain created by deposits from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. At the southern end of this plain developed the first recognizable civilization, in the area known as Sumer. In 3000 B.C. Sumer contained a dozen or more city-states, each ruled by its own king and worshiped its own patron deity. The citizens of these city-states were classified into three classes: nobles and priests, commoners, and slaves. In the center of a Sumerian city usually stood a tower culminating in a temple for the patron god of the city. The Sumerians believed that this patron god owned the whole city. The Geography of this city helped a lot with the trade, and led to mathematics as well. The Sumerians developed a precise system of mathematical notation called the sexagesimal, in which the number sixty is the main element. We even use this system in our world today! The Sumerian’ chief contribution to later civilizations was writing, even though their script was pictographic.
Through these pictographic scripts historians found a long narrative known as the Epic of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh is a great hero and ruler who sets out to recover cedar from northern lands. He travels with his companion Enkidu, who is killed by the storm god, Enlil. Mourning the loss of his companion and confronted by death himself, Gilgamesh travels the world in search of eternal life. He ends up finding the plant of eternal youth, but a serpent swallows it while he is bathing. The epic ends with his death and funeral. The Sumerians believed that the gods created people to be their slaves.
The first Great Warlord came from the region of Akkad, an area north of Babylon. His name was Sargon, and he conquered all of Mesopotamia. Sargon was from a group of people called the Semites. The only difference between the Semites and the Sumerians were linguistics. Semites spoke many different languages like Akkadian, Hebrew, and Canaanite. The Sumerian people adapted the Akkadian language. Sargon and his successors ruled from Akkad until 2230 B.C, when internal disagreement ended the Akkadian...
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... King Tutankhamen moved the capital back to Thebes and favored the older god Amen-Re. In the 19th Dynasty arose the greatest pharaoh, Ramses II. Ramses achieved a period of temporary peace. In this period he spent time and money on luxurious building projects.
A major achievement in Egyptian society was the role of women. Women were allowed to own land and pass it down to their daughters. Women also helped with agriculture and went shopping. Women were legally equal to men but in their own class. They even started having occupations. Some were singers, dancers, priests, and professional mourners. Women were even buried next to their husbands in an elegant tomb.
As you can see there are many differences and similarities between the Sumerians and Ancient Egyptians. Both were one of the first civilizations and contributed into the development of how our world works today. From politics to family life our culture today has come from a very long line of ancient civilizations and reforms.
Chambers, Mortimer, The Western Experience. McGraw-Hill College, 1999 pg. 6-20
David, A. Rosalie, The Egyptian Kingdoms. New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1975.
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