Mesopotamian vs. Egyptian Society: Religious, Political Essay

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Mesopotamian vs. Egyptian society: Religious, political, and social differences

While both the civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt may share superficial similarities, these societies held fundamentally distinct worldviews. The people of Mesopotamia saw themselves as the playthings of capricious gods; the Egyptians saw themselves as blessed by the gods. Both civilizations were based by rivers; both took hold because of the fertility of the area. However, because of their different experiences of geography and the soil's fertility, the Babylonians and Egyptians interpreted the world around them in fundamentally different ways, which affected the social structures and political organizations of both lands.

The Babylonians of Mesopotamia felt vulnerable because of the propensity of the river near where they lived to overflow. Their violent myth of origins, detailing the battle between Marduk, the chief national god of Babylon, and Tiamat, a female figure representing the sea demonstrates this uncertainty. Mutilation is the beginning of being itself, as Marduk tears Tiamat apart to create the world. The blood of the murdered Tiamat generates humanity; from her body the earth is created. Water is thus the lifeblood of the land and necessary to irrigate the crops that the Babylonians planted on the parched and barren soil, but it is also symbolic of destructive power and rage.

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The land limited as much as it nourished, according to the Babylonians. Even as Mesopotamia expanded, it could only unfurl as far as irrigation would allow (16) The Babylonians were dependent upon water for survival but they hated the way it could ravage their homes and even cut off family members from one another, as the land was reshaped by flooding. Their choices of crops were affected by the saltiness of the soil that was generated from the frequent flooding, and they had to carefully organize their planting to replenish the soil (14).

TOPIC: Essay on Mesopotamian vs. Egyptian Society: Religious, Political, and Assignment

In contrast, the Egyptians conceptualized a far more positive creation myth, because their relationship with the earth was easier and more fruitful. The earth was depicted as a bountiful mound of life, giving birth to humanity from nothingness. Creation was glorious, not painful (23).While irrigation was not unheard-of, the Nile behaved in a reliable fashion, according to the Egyptians' perception. When the river overflowed its banks, "spreading water into the bordering valley," its effects were positive. "Unlike the Mesopotamians, the Egyptians needed no dams or weirs to raise the level of the river and divert water into channels. Moreover, the Nile, unlike the Tigris and Euphrates, flooded at the best time for grain agriculture" (23). There was no need to carefully choose only crops that could thrive in salty soil, as flooding created fertile silt, meaning the Egyptians could forego strict crop rotation. Abundant papyrus ensured that there were many natural materials to create the objects that came to define Egyptian culture, including paper, and game for food was abundant (23).… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"Mesopotamian vs. Egyptian Society: Religious, Political."  Essaytown.com.  October 3, 2011.  Accessed November 27, 2021.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/mesopotamian-egyptian-society-religious/621598.