Term Paper: Civilization Egypt and Mesopotamia

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Civilization Egypt and Mesopotamia

Define and defend the essential characteristics of what you consider civilization by comparing and contrasting the evolution of government and society of both Mesopotamia and Egypt. Relate how geography may have affected the way of life (culture) of both societies, creating societies that were distinctly coherent or distinctly diverse and varied.

Mesopotamian society was primarily characterized by its unpredictability, in terms of its climate and geography. Its terrain was prone to frequent flooding, unlike the gentler and more easily contained Egyptian land near the Nile. The Egyptians viewed their proximity to an easy source of water as a gift, while the Mesopotamians regarded water with fear. The fear of water figures prominently in the Mesopotamian mythology, such as the tale of "Gilgamesh," while the life-giving attributes of the natural world, such as the daily birth and death of the sun figure prominently in the mythology of the Egyptians.

The Mesopotamian conception afterlife reflected this sense of being buffeted on all sides by the environment and by fate. The Mesopotamian gods were uncaring, and the life after this one was desolate, where souls dwelled in desolation and shadows, eating clay in the darkness. In contrast, the Egyptian afterlife was very much like life in Egypt -- a similar class system, and stable and predictable (Burton, 2007). People were even buried with household implements to use in the next world. In fact, the Egyptian Pharaoh himself was considered a god to be worshipped, and the presumably positive feelings of awe, reverence, and obedience expected by the population for this god show how the afterlife and the will of the goods was seen as beneficial. Mesopotamian gods were believed to own cities and live in the temples of their cities, but this presence was more symbolic, and seen as evidence of the gods' desire to avoid the climate of the afterlife, which Mesopotamians feared and dreaded. The greatest gift one could have as a Mesopotamian is to have a long life, which is also reflected in the tale of "Gilgamesh," as… [END OF PREVIEW]

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