Comparison and Contrast of Ancient Egypt and Ancient Mesopotamia

Last Updated: 28 Mar 2021
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Ancient Egypt, known as “The Gift of the Nile,” and ancient Mesopotamia, known as the land “Between the Rivers,” were the first two civilizations developed by mankind. Not only this is a double-negative that you do not need. These were they the first civilizations to form, andbut they were also the first river-valley civilizations using the nearby river(s). Ancient Egypt was birthed around 3100 B. C., and was based in the northern part of Africa. Ancient Mesopotamia came into existence around 3000 B. C. in the region now known as Iraq. Although the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia were developed independently, they also exhibited similarities in their governments, religions, geographies, and economies.

Geography, Climate, and Economy

Both, ancient Egypt and ancient Mesopotamia, were considered river valley civilizations. redundant – you already made this statement] Mesopotamia, which is currently Iraq, was nestled between the Tigris River and the Euphrates River. This is known as “The Fertile Crescent. ” Egypt was founded on the banks of the Nile River in what is now the northeast part of Africa. All three of these rivers flooded annually, which deposited rich silt into the soil, and created a fertile area for agriculture. The Egyptians and the Sumerians, as the Semitic people of Mesopotamia were called, possessed an economy based primarily on agriculture. They used the rivers as a way of transportation, and were able to trade with other peoples.

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They both created irrigation systems to provide drinking water for human and animal consumption, and as a water source so their crops could flourish. The Nile flooded each year predictably, and was a very stable source of water. This allowed the Egyptians to be a very prosperous civilization, rich in economy, and possessing a surplus of food. The Tigris and the Euphrates were not as predictable and were very unstable rivers. This led to major catastrophes, higher poverty levels than Egypt, and shortages of food at times  from time to time. The Sumerians had to construct complex irrigation systems to try to lessen the climate effects, whereas the Egyptians didn’t.

Religion and Government

The Sumerians and the Egyptians were polytheists, meaning they worshipped numerous gods and goddesses. Both civilizations built temples and important monuments for worshiping their gods. The Sumerians built their temples, which were the most prominent buildings in the city-states (small cities within Mesopotamia), upon platforms named ziggurats. Egyptians also built temples for worship, but were best known for the grand pyramids that were built as the final resting place for their Pharaohs.

Egyptians were ruled by dynasties of divine kingship, or better known as pharaohs, who passed down power from father to son. The city-states of Mesopotamia were ruled by powerful and power-hungry kings Powerful and power-hungry kings ruled the city-states of Mesopotamia. Each city-state had their own king, and were always at war with one another for control of land and water. Egypt was unified under one pharaoh, and were safe from invasion. The city-states of Mesopotamia were subject to constant invasion from other city-state kings, as well as from other civilizations.

A king could easily be overthrown in a city-state if he were to be conquered, which happened more times than naught. The ancient Egyptians and ancient Mesopotamians developed major social class structures. Egyptians separated their classes into five tiers, with the god-king at the top, followed by upper class, middle class, lower class, and the slave class at the bottom. The Sumerians only had four, beginning with the elites or nobles, followed by the commoners, free commoners, and then the slave class. If you asked someone to list the five tiers of Egyptian civilization, they would not know. ] The pharaohs of Egypt believed they had a responsibility to uphold the laws of the Creator, or Ma’at, for the people they governed. Ma’at was the typeface change - concept of truth, balance, order, law, morality, and justice. The Sumerian kings felt they held the responsibility of expansionism for their people because of their geographical locations. Art, Architecture, and Written Form The Egyptians worshipped their pharaohs as gods on Earth, and portrayed them, along with the other gods, in artwork.

They depicted their gods as humans or half-human half-animal creatures. The Sumerians illustrated their gods as animals, each individual god having a single animal as their counterpart. Architecture was a major component for both civilizations, though Egypt’s structures are still renowned today. The Sumerians built large and important buildings for worship that were the central point of each city-state. A ziggurat is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “an ancient Mesopotamian temple tower consisting of a lofty pyramidal structure built in successive stages with outside staircases and a shrine at the top. ” The Egyptians built something similar, though on a much grander scale. The pyramids were built for their god-kings as their final resting place, or a tomb as referred to today.

They were on a larger, grander, and more expensive scale than the monuments built by the Sumerians. The Sumerians didn’t have access to a lot of wood or stone, so they used mud bricks instead. The Egyptians, however, built with granite and limestone bricks found in quarries surrounding Egypt. It seems that both ancient Egypt and ancient Mesopotamia were indeed comparable in regards to their economies, religions, governments, and geographies, although their cultures were diverse in each of these aspects. Both civilizations were oriented in a river valley, which provided food and water.

However, the Nile was predictable and stable, whereas the Euphrates and the Tigris were unpredictable and caused catastrophes. Both civilizations were polytheistic. They were both ruled by their religion and by powerful kings, though Egypt’s Pharaohs were considered gods on Earth and the Sumerian kings were considered intermediates between man and their gods. Though both ancient civilizations have fallen and are long gone, their complex social stratifications, political hierarchies, and advanced architectures paved the foundations for the civilizations following them.

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Comparison and Contrast of Ancient Egypt and Ancient Mesopotamia. (2017, Apr 18). Retrieved from

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