Egypt and Mesopotamia Compared. Thc two civilizations had important differences and similarities. In political life the Mesopotamians developed regional city‑states while the Egyptians lived under a strong, centralized government. Both had stratified social classes. Mesopotamia developed an epic literary tradition lacking in Egypt. With better access to building materials, the ability to organize masses of laborers, and a strong belief in an afterlife, the Egyptians focused more on monumental structures than did the Mesopotamians. Both societies traded widely. Mesopotamia, because of its more difficult environment, produced more technological advances. Its trade contacts were more extensive, and greater attention was given to the merchant class and commercial law. Egypt's different environment contributed to its stable and cheerful society, both on earth and in the afterlife. In social organization women probably held higher status in Egypt. Both societies had a noble landowning class, powerful priesthoods, and masses of peasants and slaves. In science both emphasized astronomy and mathematics. Aided by relative regional isolation, the two conservative civilizations resisted change until pressured by natural disaster or invasion.