Social Boundary Comparison in Ancient India and Egypt
Imagine what it would be like if we didn't have an alphabet or paper. In ancient times they weren't as privileged as we are today. They had to be creative and think of a way that they could communicate with the resources they had. Writing has been very important in all civilizations and is a symbol of upper class in most. Dating back to the earliest Egyptian writing in 3300 BCE with hieroglyphs that served different functions with each script. Writing has progressed since then and has evolved to what is known and loved while creating social boundaries. It is very clear to see social boundaries in India and Egypt and how writing only enforced their social class systems.
Despite being very different, both India and Egypt had social boundaries created through their caste system which defined their education opportunities. As defined in Worlds of History a caste system is, “…a group of persons who will eat with one another and intermarry, while excluding others from these two intimacies.” (Reiley p. 80) What does this mean? In India’s civilization, this meant that people were born in specific social castes and they could all be grouped into five main groups. In India, these five groups were called: Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Shudra, and outcasts. The caste system can be compared to a wedding cake and at the top tier is Brahmins which were holy priests. These people were seen with the highest respect and anyone in this
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The ancient Egyptian and ancient Greek civilizations are two of the oldest known civilizations in our history. The Egyptian civilization, based in the eastern part of North Africa, is believed to have started around 3150 BC and continued till the end of the Pharaoh rule in 31 BC. The ancient Greek civilization is believed to have been in effect from 1100 BC till about 146 BC. Many similarities and differences existed between these two civilizations, as even though they co-existed during a certain timeframe (1150 BC to 146 BC), they were located in different geographical areas. Because of these differences in geography, both these civilizations were subjected to different kinds of exposure, which included contact with other civilization and cultural inheritance. In the political sphere, we find that the Egyptian civilization had stronger emphasis on central authority, while the Greeks had a more decentralized structure, where powers were distributed over the cities and the states as well. As far as art is concerned, we find that the Egyptians were more involved in creating great monumental and gaudy structures, while the Greeks were more involved in creating smaller, more literary pieces of art.
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The first form of writing was created by Sumerians 5,000 years ago called Cuneiform (Document 1). Sumerians used this writing system to keep track of business dealings because they traded with people who lived in lands that were hundreds and even thousands of miles away (Doc. 2). With a written language, ideas could be shared from generation to generation (Doc. 1). To write in cuneiform somebody would need to acquire a clay tablet, then bake it hard in a kiln (Doc. 1). If cuneiform had not been created, there may have not been written languages in the
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A civilization refers to “a particular and distinctive type of human society” (Strayer, pg. 90). Civilizations aren’t always different from one another nor are they the exact same. Each civilization has some form of a unique characteristic that differentiates itself from the rest. For example, the Ancient Egyptians and the Hindus from Ancient India. They both have a permanent arrangement of societal roles, yet they aren’t constructed or operated in the same manner. These two locations are the main topics of this discussion/comparison.
In comparing and contrasting the societies of Periclean Athens and ancient Egypt, we must first mention some of the characteristics of an actual society: a society has a stable food supply, social levels and classes, specialization of labor, a system of government, and a highly developed culture. Both the societies of ancient Athens and Egypt fit into these parameters. In this essay we will explore social classes, gender relations, social inequality, and hierarchy as they apply to these societies.
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