Mesopotamia and Egypt as a First Civilizations

Updated July 18, 2021

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Mesopotamia and Egypt as a First Civilizations essay

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A civilization is a complex culture in which large numbers of people share a variery of common elements. Some of the first civilizations was the Mesopotamia and the Egyptians. Both were similar but also very different.

Mesopotamia was the land between the Tigris and Euphrates river. The area did not get much rain but in late spring the rivers would flood and leave the fertile silt and that would help with agriculture. With this flooding there was times that the people weren’t sure how bad it was going to be, at times it could be catastrophic and cause many deaths. So, the Mesopotamians built irrigation systems to help flooding and flow of the water and to help with farming. Agricultural was a big part of the Mesopotamians, but so was woolen textiles, pottery and metal work. Traders traveled to the area to trade fish, wool, barely, copper wheat and metal goods. The wheel was invented in this time to help with the trading.

In Egypt they lived along the Nile river. Like the Mesopotamia’s the river helped them out with farming and agriculture was a big part of the area as well. They were able to prosper of the flooding of the Nile and keep it contained unlike the Mesopotamians who needed more help and could potentially be an emergent situation. The Egyptians thrived off the river and it was the fastest way to travel and communicate. The Egyptians was able to grow an abundance of food in the area around the Nile river. In Egypt they did trade up and down the Nile river for wood products, ivory, spices, paper, rope and would eventually have trade links between port of the red sea and as far as Indonesia.

Society in the Mesopotamia consisted of four major groups. Elites, dependent commoners, free commoners, and slaves. The Elites was royalty and their families. Dependent commoners worked at the royalty estates. Free commoners were the farmers, merchants, fishers, scribes and craftspeople. The slaves belong to the palace. They were mostly female who would make cloth, agriculture and domestic work.

Where as in Egypt they had upper, middle and lower class. Above all was the god-king. Under him was the upper class which consisted of priest and nobles. Then it would be the middle class which consisted of merchants and artist. They did trade up and down the Nile river, as well as the village and town. Then you had the lower class, which consisted of people who worked in the land. They were not considered slaves as they were in the Mesopotamia’s but they were controlled by the king and bound to the land. They had to pay taxes in form of crops, provided military services and forced to work on building projects.

Writing was a big achievement for the Mesopotamians. This was called Cuneiform. They made wedge shaped impression on clay and let it dry, and these were indestructible. It started as pictures of objects, then to signs, and then to a phonetic system that would help them with written expressions. Cuneiform was used to schools and was primarily used for record keeping. Mesopotamians also made great accomplishments with math and astronomy. They were able to make a number system and use geometry to measure fields and buildings.

In Egypt, writing was called hieroglyphics. Hieroglyphics were signs of objects and had sacred value, which these never turned into an alphabet. These were first carved in stone and then later was written on papyrus or wooden tablets. Egyptians were very artistic and had a very strict style to go by. They would paint many views of the body, so it would be an accurate representation of the body. They created wall painting, statues of the gods in temples that served as a spiritual purpose to help guide the journey to the afterworld.

Religion in the Mesopotamians was believed to be controlled by supernatural forces. They believed that the flooding, wind, and humidity was a result of the supernatural forces and things were not completely safe. These powers came from gods and goddesses. This type of religion was called Polytheism. Their belief was that humans were created to do labor that the gods were not able to do. The Mesopotamians took part in an intervention called divination when things began to stress them. This involved killing animals and examining their livers and other organs. The organs was supposed to tell them events that was coming for the future.

In Egypt the religion was similar, they believed that people needed to rituals to appease the gods and goddesses that controlled the universe. They did not have name for their religion, but it was the pharaohs job to keep stability. They had numerous gods that was associated with heavely bodies and natural forces. The Egyptians used pyramids that were dedicated to the dead. The pyramids were used for mummified bodies of the pharaohs. The tombs were prepared for the deceased with chairs, weapons, games and dishes. They believed that when you died you had two different bodies, a spiritual and a physical. A physical one that was preserved through mummification, and if done correctly they could come back and and live life with the normal day objects.

Overall the Mesopotamia and the Egyptians are similar and different. Similarities include they live flourish by the rivers, trade similar products, they even developed their own writing techniques, and both believe in a rituals that would please the gods. Although they seem very similar they have some difference as well. The Mesopotamians lived in between the lakes and that caused threats to their civilization, whereas the Egyptians lived along the Nile and that help them tremendously at planning for a flood and their agriculture.


  1. Duiker, William. Spielvogel, Jackson. World History volume I: 1800 Eight edition. 2015. Chapter 1
Mesopotamia and Egypt as a First Civilizations essay

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