Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilization developed in S.W Asia, also known as the Middle East beginning in 3,500 B.C.E. Both civilizations developed similar religious beliefs. However, their governments and environments were different. Mesopotamia’s government was not as centralized under a single ruler as Egypt’s. And while both had polytheistic beliefs, their concept of the afterlife differed greatly. The environment of each was different, which may have been a reason for why they developed distinct political and religious beliefs.
Mesopotamian and Egyptian societies developed very different political systems. Mesopotamia’s government was divided between many different city-states. A city-state was made up of an urban center where the elites also controlled the outside rural lands. Sumer and Babylon were two city-states of Mesopotamia. Each city-state was ruled by its own king. Unlike Mesopotamia, Egypt was ruled by a single pharaoh. He was seen as the divine ruler of Egypt. And while the Babylonian King Hammurabi, wrote a code of law. This shows that the Egyptian pharaohs must have been more powerful because they did not have to write their laws down to convince people to follow them. Also, Egyptian pharaohs monopolized trade and controlled their merchants while the merchants in Mesopotamia were free and independent of government interference. Therefore, the government of Egypt was more centralized under the power of one ruler than the government of Mesopotamia, which was divided among several city-states.
To an extent, both societies had similar religious beliefs. Mesopotamians believed in many deities and believed in anthropomorphic gods. This means that they assigned human-like qualities to their gods. Egyptians also practiced polytheism and saw their gods as having the same traits as humans. Both groups built huge structures, which show that religion was very important in both areas. Egyptians built pyramids while Mesopotamians built ziggurats. Where they differed is in their belief of the afterlife. We know about Mesopotamian ideas of the afterlife from the Epic of Gilgamesh. According to the story, the underworld was seen as a scary and terrible place. The Egyptians however saw the afterlife as a happy place and spent a lot of time preparing for the journey. The Book of the Dead gives us this information. So, although both believed in the polytheism, they had totally different ideas of the afterlife and of their deities.
The environment that surrounded them may have played a role in shaping their political and religious beliefs. Mesopotamia was situated at the crossroads of three main continents: Asia, Europe and Africa. The Zagros Mountains were not enough to keep invaders away and the area was more exposed and easier to conquer than Egypt. Egypt’s isolation may have helped the pharaoh turn into more powerful ruler since he did not face
the threat of conquest that many Mesopotamian kings faced. The Nile River was also much easier to control than the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers of Mesopotamia. This may have been the reason for the Mesopotamian belief that their deities were cruel, occasionally
punishing them with droughts or floods. Egyptians, on the other hand, did not fear their gods or the afterlife. Therefore, their different political and religious beliefs may have been due to their different environments.
Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilization developed differently in their religious and political beliefs. While Egypt’s government was under the control of one, strong pharaoh, Mesopotamia’s government was divided among several city-states and monarchs. Their religious beliefs were very similar but with some unique differences which may have been caused by their different environments. THE END!
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