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Mesopotamia and Egypt

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Between 3500-500 BCE, Mesopotamia and Egypt were both seen as major civilization. Although they are both ancient river civilizations and have many similarities, there are multiple differences between their religion, social structure, and political systems. Three similarities between Mesopotamia, and Egypt is that they were both patriarchal societies, both had written languages, and had education. They are both patriarchal societies as evidenced by Egypt having Pharaohs and Mesopotamia having Kings. They both had written languages as evidenced by multiple findings of slabs of clay with symbols, also known as cuneiform writing, in Mesopotamia and hieroglyphic writing on sheets of papyrus in Egypt. They both had an education system as evidenced by the Mesopotamian study of astronomy and mathematics and the Egyptian finding of “The Satire of the Trades.” Patriarchal societies are a similarity between Egypt and Mesopotamia because Egypt was primarily ruled by a pharaoh which was always a male figure. Also, Egypt had built such a strong patriarchal society that they had given men authority over public and private affairs.

The women had routinely performed the domestic work in upper elites and in wealthy households. Mesopotamia, much like Egypt, also had a patriarchal society where the men had authority over both public and private affairs. Within their households the men decided the work that family members would perform and made marriage arrangements for their children as well as any others who came under their authority. Men also ruled as kings and made the decisions about policies and public affairs. The men even had power to sell their wives and children into slavery to satisfy their debts. Although women had made their influence felt in Mesopotamian society. Women sometimes advised kings and their governments. A few women wielded great power as high priestesses who managed the enormous estates belonging to their temples. Women also pursued careers as midwives, shopkeepers, brewers, bakers, tavern keepers, textile manufacturers, and even as scribes. Three differences between Mesopotamia and Egypt were that they had different religions, social structures, and the importance of their inventions. They had different religions because in Mesopotamia they had Hebrews, Israelites, and Jews, and Egypt had believed in more than one God such as Amon and Re.

Their social structures were different because in Egypt they had a pharaoh as a supreme central ruler, a professional military force, and an elaborate bureaucracy of administrators and tax collectors, although in Mesopotamia they had a ruling class that consisted of kings and nobles, and slightly under them were priests and priestesses. The importance of their inventions differ because in Mesopotamia they had invented things such as the wheel, an easier way of shipbuilding, and had used iron and bronze metallurgy, yet in Egypt they had also used bronze and iron metallurgy but in a different way, so they had invented an easier form of transportation and trade networks. Religion is a difference between Mesopotamia and Egypt because in Mesopotamia they had believed that nature spirits inhabited trees, rocks, and mountains, for example, and they honored various deities and patrons or protectors of their clans. Moses, however embraced monotheism. He taught that there was only one god, known as Yahweh, who was a supremely powerful deity, the creator and sustainer of the world.

The Egyptians had believed that deities played prominent roles in the world and that proper cultivation of the gods was an important community responsibility. The main gods that they had worshiped were Amon and Re. Amon was originally a local Theban deity associated with the sun, creation, fertility, and reproductive forces, and Re was a sun god worshiped at Heliopolis. For a brief period the cult of Amon-Re faced a monotheistic challenge from the god Aten, another deity associated with the sun, but as soon as the pharaoh, Akhenaten, had died the priests mounted a fierce counterattack, restoring Amon-Re to privileged status, and nearly annihilated the worship and even the memory of Aten. So even though Mesopotamia and Egypt have many similar traits, they also have many differences that make these two major civilizations very unique. Religion, social structures, and the importance of their inventions were only a few things separating these two regions.

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