Each Mesopotamian city states worshiped local gods and spirits. If they were part of a large kingdom or Empire, then they might be forced to worship the religion of the state but usually kept local beliefs intact. This is primarily because of how fragmented ancient Mesopotamia used to be. Egyptian Polytheism differs a lot from Mesopotamian Animism and Polytheism in several ways. The Egyptian’s worshiped the state religion alone and did not have separate local religions as often. The rough geography most likely helped with this along with the unity of Egypt. The ziggurats of Mesopotamia and the various monuments of Egypt have similarities and seemingly different functions. The Mesopotamians built ziggurats as temples, but the monuments of Egypt have various roles including for burial which reflects another major religious difference, the Egyptians believed in an afterlife which resulted in many artifacts preserved helping historians know more about their culture, not what was intended, but useful later
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.
I think that without the past there is no future. The future is very important and in this essay I will explain the Egyptian civilization in mesopotamia and information about their beliefs, way of life and leadership. I will also include the role of pharaoh and priests of Mesopotamia.
Ancient Egypt is the origin to one of the most intricate belief systems in the world. This polytheistic religion was composed of various beliefs and rituals. Polytheistic means that they believed in many deities. All of which were linked to the common theme of immortality. Religion laid the foundation for all aspects of Egyptian lives, political structure, cultural achievement and art. Their religion consisted of up 2000 gods and goddess. Only some were worshiped universally throughout Egypt. They were often represented as being half human and half animal. As an example, the Egyptian god Anubis was half man and half jackal. He is associated with mummification and the afterlife in Egyptian mythology. Egyptian religion was oriented toward people 's’ attainment of immortality signified by mummification/preservation of the dead.
The Egyptians believed very much in life after death. As Taylor states in Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt, “It is often observed that they appear to have devoted greater efforts and resources to preparing for the afterlife than to creating a convenient environment for living” (Taylor, 2001:12). The Egyptians viewed life on earth as one stage and death as the beginning of another. They believed that, “human existence did not end with death and that survival of the body played a part in the new life” (Taylor, 2001:12). One of the key elements in the Egyptian culture and religion was the preservation of the body. The body was the most important aspect because it was like a portal through which an individual could continue to live
Egyptian geography was more promising than that of the Sumerians. The land on both sides of the Nile was very fertile, due to annual flooding. The flooding was very predictable which helped the Egyptians see the universe as a well ordered system. This resulted in an early sense of nationalism among the Egyptians, which was very different from that of the Sumerian civilization.
Historians are confident that Mesopotamia and Egypt are the earliest documented civilizations based on archaeological evidence. They are known for their innovations in technology, agriculture, and law, which society uses today. The evidence from various researches by credible historians and archeologist shows that indeed both civilizations had a legal system whether written or not. The Mesopotamian people were tame by rules put forth by Hammurabi – the sixth king of Ancient Babylon – referred to as Hammurabi’s Code by historians. The Mesopotamian government went to great lengths to spell out their laws, and consequences for breaking them, in depth detail; on the other hand, Egypt failed to do the same. While less visible proof of Egyptian law exists today, there is evidence that proves they had a structured and progressive legal society. Even though both societies were advanced, their legal system in many ways contrasted each other.
The setting is around 3000 BCE, surrounded on all sides by vast, arid deserts, steep cliffs, and extensive bodies of water. And, in these massive deserts civilization exists; there are grand, shining empires, pillars of humanity. Ancient Egypt and Ancient Mesopotamia, both known as cradles of civilization, were hosts to some of the greatest ancient kingdoms of mankind. These empires shared a number of common practices due to similar geographical settings, but likewise they were different in their structure, customs, and views. The ancient civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia shared many similarities; however Egypt was more prosperous economically, established a superior, unwavering political structure, and possessed more unified and content religious views.
The Egyptians viewed the afterlife as a happy place filled with food and the gods. In contrast, the Mesopotamians viewed the afterlife as a place of horror and fear. The vital cause for the differences of viewpoints in the afterlife is the River they depended on. Both civilizations saw the afterlife as an extension of their current life. With this being said, the Nile was giving and gave them lots of water along with silt, which was crucial for the survival of their crops. In turn, the Egyptians perspective on the afterlife was gracious. Conversely, the Mesopotamians depended on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. While it did bless them with fresh water, on occasions, the river would grow violent and cause a catastrophic amount of damage to their homes and crops. Since they also viewed their afterlife as an extension to their current lives, they saw it as a dark and horrible place that wasn’t wanted. However, both civilizations accomplished achievements through religion and for other reasons.
The first category of culture is religion. There were several similarities between the Mesopotamians and Egyptians. The Mesopotamians and Egyptians had their own religion and beliefs. Both were polytheistic, meaning they believed in numerous gods or goddesses instead of one god or goddess. There were also several differences between the Mesopotamian and Egyptians. While the Mesopotamians and Egyptians worshiped thousands of deities, there were four main essential deities for the Mesopotamians: An, Enlil, Enki, and Ninhursaga. An was the god of heaven. Enlil was the god of wind and became the power of energy, force, and authority on the earth. Enki was the god of
Religion was an important factor in the everyday lives of Mesopotamians and ancient Egyptians. Both civilizations were polytheistic which meant they worshiped multiple gods. Many elaborate temples were built to praise them. The leaders in both regions were believed to be related to the gods because of the great power they held and wealth under their control. Mesopotamians and ancient Egyptians believed in the afterlife. When people died, they were buried with items to take along.
Religions played an important role in both Egyptian and Sumerian civilizations. It allowed people to worship Gods who they believed to ensure good lives. However, both civilizations did not use judge morality. Sumerians believed that Gods give them good living condition rather than judge it. Sumerian religion was created from myths and ritual prayers. Sumerians were “literal servants” and obey to the Gods. They offered prayers, gifts to the gods and Gods blessed people with good condition. Gods of Sumerians were Heaven creating of day and night, The Great Above making up of the space between the sky and the earth, and The Great Below where people go after death. Like Sumerian, Egypt religion was also created from myths along with traditions.
Egyptians viewed the afterlife in a very positive way - they believed if they lived by the standards of “Ma’at”, they would end up in the “Happy Field of Food” or “Field of Offerings” in the afterlife. “Ma’at”, simply put, composed of acting in ways that are truthful, harmonious, moral, balanced, and orderly. In simple terms, Egyptians believed that if they acted with morality, they would have a happy afterlife with no hunger or pain. Mesopotamians had a much darker view of life after death: they believed they would spend eternity in the “House of Dust” with other tortured souls. Mesopotamian gods were not moral or truthful - they cheated, lied, stole, etc., and Mesopotamians believed that humans were created simply because the gods grew tired of working. Mesopotamians worshipped their gods because they believed if they worshipped enough, they may receive blessings or justice, but this was not guaranteed.
In the first civilization, both Mesopotamia and Egypt relied on a hunter-gatherer economic system, during that time, every country in the world strived on it. Mesopotamia had rich soil for agriculture, but experiences floods. For the Mesopotamians, these floods would destroy major cities, but for the Egyptians it would keep the soil rich all year long without the damage that the Mesopotamians had experienced.
Describe the ancient Sumerian and Egyptian civilizations in terms of political structure, religion, society, and culture. Account for the similarities and differences between them.