Egypt and Mesopotamia
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River Valley civilizations were the first to occur throughout time. Two of the most advanced were Egypt and Mesopotamia. Although both had a male dominant government that was supported by a patriarchal king or leader, Egypt had a strong, centralized government whereas Mesopotamia was decentralized and was based upon small city-states operating independently. To add, Egypt was also classified as self sufficient rather than Mesopotamia who relied on trade because of unstable agriculture. Due to Egypt surpassing Mesopotamia in areas such as governmental structure, self sufficiency, and cultural traditions, Egypt proves to be the more advanced society.
Environmental and geographical factors highly influenced both Egyptian and Mesopotamian society. Both civilizations had periodic flooding occurring nearby. This could be viewed in both a positive and negative outlook, but unfortunately for Mesopotamia, residents had to deal with the Tigris and Euphrates River which caused irregular flooding and this then resulted in unstable agriculture, making the Mesopotamians come up with other ways to make things all the more convenient. Egypt on the other hand, had to deal with the Nile River which affected the civilization in a much more positive manner. Egyptians had the capability to predict when the Nile would flood. Due to the Nile’s predictable, annual flooding, agriculture benefitted from this because fertile soil was now available which led to the growth of crops and gave farmers and idea of when the time was best to pick their crops.
Agriculture then flourished across the region and caused a surplus of food thus resulting in Egypt being self-sufficient as opposed to Mesopotamia who relied and depended on the trading of goods and other resources with other regions. Furthermore, natural barriers also affected the civilizations in various areas. Mesopotamia had few which again, was a disadvantage because there was always the constant worry of invasion. Egypt though, had numerous amounts of natural barriers such as the Sahara Desert, Nile River, Red Sea, and Mediterranean Sea. With all these surrounding them, invasion wasn’t such a prime concern, so they evolved a complex and hearty view towards the afterlife. Religion was then tied into government, making it all the more significant because pharaohs were viewed as god-like and were considered to be ultimate rulers. Citizens then realized that much more is at stake for an act of wrongdoing. However, in Mesopotamian culture, death was simply foreseen as an eternal sleep and was the given the name “Land of No Return” that held no importance and did not have any affect when involved with government. All in all, geography affected the natural occurrences to the civilizations as well as the frequency of invasion, the evolvement of strong cultural beliefs, and self-sufficiency.
The culture in both Mesopotamia and Egypt influenced both civilizations. However, Egypt’s culture had a significant and drastic impact on the governmental structure. Egypt was claimed to be a theocracy, so the behavior of residents was caused by the pharaoh who was the source of all law throughout the region and was classified to be a god. This idea ties in adequately with the idea of Egypt being a centralized type of government. Their leaders were worshipped and praised respectfully so whatever the pharaoh decided was seen to be morally correct or important and was to be followed by society. On the other hand, Mesopotamia had a decentralized government that had little to no relationship with religion. Although excluding that Mesopotamian leaders were considered to be anthropomorphic, they didn’t really influence their citizens as Egypt. This proves to be an important characteristic because at the time, majority of people followed religion.
For it to be tied with government is momentous because it affected the behavior of residents making things operate more smoothly and progressively as well as keeping governmental structure in tact. Mesopotamia however, was decentralized and that could have ignited negative effects to its own civilization. For instance, one city-state could be exceeding over other city-states and that could then lead to possible tension within the own land. To add on, leaders were not seen as the ultimate ruler or authority figure, which didn’t really lead to a stable, centralized flow compared to Egypt where everyone was unified as a whole and on the same page. To tie it all together, religion played a role in the overall governmental rule and structure to both civilizations, but Egypt proved to be more dominant as opposed to Mesopotamia.
In political views, both Egypt and Mesopotamia shared the same concept of having a patriarchal leader or king with god-like attributes. To begin with, Mesopotamian rulers were anthropomorphic (half mortal and half divine) as well as being representatives of the gods so they weren’t looked upon as big as the Egyptian pharaohs who were viewed as a much higher ruler of power. The rulers then tie in with the type of government each civilization have. The type of government one has is important because it basically makes up the majority of everything the civilization has to offer. Mesopotamia adapted the decentralized form, which is probably not the best of choices. City-states are located in various locations, making it all the more complicated to unify everyone together on possibly some sort of case. Whereas in Egypt, a strong, central authority was emphasized that made things easier in areas such as organization, communication, unity, etc. The strong centralized government of Egypt could have then lead to much profound success with agriculture, ruling of other territories, and economic specialization. In Mesopotamia, it was technically considered all to be one whole, unified area of residents. However, due to the formation of city-states, not everyone may agree in a topic or whatever it may be which negatively impacts the civilization as a whole because this could very well lead to political turmoil or tension within the area.
To end off, it is apparent to see that both River Valley civilizations, Egypt and Mesopotamia, shared similar traits. However, not everything was exactly alike due to all these factors and variables that had key roles in the forming of these two civilizations. For this being so, Egypt proves to be the more dominant society of the two.