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Comparison Between Mesopotamia and Egypt in Terms of Political Power

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Gender and political power can be very different based on what period of time and what culture is being looked at. Based on these differences, this can influence what type of art is being created. Two cultures that are going to be examined in this essay are Egypt and Mesopotamia. More specifically, how power is depicted in both these cultures, how gender affects this power, and how the people of these cultures let it influence their artwork. Pieces from both cultures that display gender and political power are, Hatshepsut Sphinx, from Egypt, and King Ashurbanipal II Hunting Lions, from Mesopotamia.

In Egypt, around the time Haptshepsut was ruling, gender and politics had changed drastically. For example, Haptsheput had just become the first female pharaoh. Before this, however, women had very different role in Egypt. Their status, if lucky enough to have one at all, dependent on what their relationship was in regards to the king. Women in power were often addressed as “king’s mother, “kings wife”, “kings daughter” etc. Even though the king’s daughters to have the potential to become a queen, they do not nearly get the same iconography and praise associated with being a king. Egypt used to be ruled by male gods, but later started to be ruled by human kings. These human kings were males who were divinely set apart from any other human. “The office of kingship was essential to the very existence of the state of Egypt. The king stood between the divine and human worlds, acting as the point of contact and mediator”. The king was believed to be the only one who could perform the rituals that were needed to keep the universe intact. But, all of this changed when Hatshepsut declared herself pharaoh. She realized after her husband/ brother Thutmose II died and her son, Thutmose III, being too young to rule Egypt, that there could be two kings at once. From then on, Hapsheput and Thutmose had ruled together, but Haptsept was more recognized and clearly the more dominant. At the beginning of her reign, Hapshetsut was depicted more feminine. Her statues had the physique of a woman with a thin waist and breast, Her painting often had paler skin. But, as she gets further into her reign, her image became more masculinized. She had darker skin, more muscular features, and even a fake beard. Egypt was able to make the depiction for a female ruler, but still depicted her to be male.

Over in Mesopotamia, men were of course still treated as if they were higher than women. Men could be farmers, slave owners, warriors, kings. Only men reserved the right to be involved with politics, giving them even more power and authority. Women were just seen as wives, mothers, housekeepers, etc. In Mesopotamia, power was conveyed by kingship. King assiruial showed his power in kingship by being a great military officer. He completed many successful military conquests. His power was shown by his large palace that was covered in relics that showed his military triumphs. He used his power to secure his empire and make sure there were no invasions. “The king, as representative of the god Assur, represented order. Wherever he was in control, there was peace, tranquility, and justice, and where he did not rule there was chaos. The king’s duty to bring order to the entire world was the justification for military expansion”.

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Comparison Between Mesopotamia and Egypt in Terms of Political Power. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 17, 2021, from
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Comparison Between Mesopotamia and Egypt in Terms of Political Power. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 17 Sept. 2021].
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