Death and Afterlife in Ancient Egyptian Society and the Mesopotamian Society

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Death and Afterlife in Ancient Egyptian Society and the Mesopotamian Society

There were many ways that the Ancient Egyptian society and the Mesopotamian society were similar yet at the same time they were very different. Egyptians and Sumerians agreed on religion in a sense that both cultures were polytheistic. However, the relationships between the gods and goddesses were different between the Sumerians and Egyptians. This essay will discuss those differences in culture, religion and the viewpoints on death and afterlife. Mesopotamia’s climate consisted of temperatures rising from 110 to 120°F in the summer. This led to many dry days that eventually led to a severe drought. Basically, there was little to no rainfall from the
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They believed that the gods punished them with floods and or famine. Their pessimistic outlook on life made them have bad premonitions towards their afterlife. They believed that at death that they were going to descend forever into a dark underworld, a huge cave filled with nothing but dust and silence. They tried to enjoy life as much as they could but did not look forward to the afterlife. Death was not the paradise that the Egyptians believed in. It was considered eternal hell. (Hause, 2001, pg. 10)

An example of the Sumerians fearing the afterlife is portrayed in “The Epic of Gilgamesh” Gilgamesh asks Unthapashtim (a biblical version of Noah; Genesis), if there is anyway he can attain immortality. Gilgamesh realized that he was mortal after the death of his friend. Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh that there is no such thing as permanence. Gilgamesh must come to terms that one day he will die and that scared him greatly. (Sherman, 2000, pg. 8) Life in general was ideal for the Egyptians. Contrary to Mesopotamia, Egypt had the reliable Nile for constant irrigation as well as a location that was almost impossible to invade. Egyptians didn’t have to deal with warfare for some two thousand years. The Nile’s annual flood was so predictable that it provided the moisture needed to sustain life. (Hause, 2001, pg. 11) An example of how important the Nile was
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