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When thinking about Mesopotamia and Egypt people typically tend to focus on how they are different first before thinking about how they are similar. The difference between both civilizations is what makes them unique and allows them to stand out from each other. Although Mesopotamia and Egypt differ from each other whenever it comes to government, language, and architecture. They share similarities between geography, religion, and agriculture.
Mesopotamia is located in West Asia and surrounded by the Tigris-Euphrates River. The Sumerians and Akkadians controlled Mesopotamia from 3100 BC until the fall of Babylon in 539 BC which allowed the Achaemenid Empire to Conquer Mesopotamia. Alexander the Great conquered in 332 BC and after he died Mesopotamia became a part of the Seleucid Empire. Mesopotamia was later conquered by the Parthian Empire in 150 BC and later became a battleground between the Parthians and Romans.
Ancient Egypt is a civilization located in North Eastern Africa along the Nile River. Ancient Egypt developed independently and includes several kingdoms that are separated by periods such as the Old Kingdom, Early Bronze Age, Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom. In fact Egypt experienced an increase in power in the New Kingdom while controlling Nubia. After being conquered by foreign groups that were ruled by the greek Ptolemaic Kingdom and Cleopatra, Egypt finally became a Roman Empire.
Cities throughout Mesopotamia were ruled by kings. Each city had their very own king that determined rules and regulations for the city. When the king passed laws in Sumer citizens were expected to obey them. The city of Babylon had similar laws to those of Sumer. To ensure that citizens were following the laws of Babylon King Hammurabi had them engraved into stone tablets. Assyria was led by a king but military officers were responsible for the local government as a whole. Unlike Mesopotamia Egypt was ruled by Pharaoh and other leaders that were below him. The leaders that helped Pharaoh were the Nomarks and Vizier. Citizens of Egypt were required to follow all laws that were passed just like those in Mesopotamia.
Mesopotamia had six central languages which were Aramaic, Akkadian, Sumerian, Amorite, Babylonian, and Assyrian. These languages are known as cuneiform which is another name for wedged shaped script. Cuneiform script was carved into stone and written on clay tablets. Cuneiform began as a picture that included individual stroke. However Egyptian language was spoken in Egypt in the form of Coptic. The Egyptian language is the oldest language known and is still heavily spoken in the Coptic church.
Whenever it came down to building bricks were favored by the Mesopotamians. Bricks were used to build temples and government buildings throughout Mesopotamia. Clay nails and terracotta panels were put inside of the brick structures to serve as a protective shield simply because they were not durable. Clay, mud brick, and mud plaster were also used to make houses and palaces. The key building materials in Egypt included mud brick just like Mesopotamia, stone and limestone. Bricks were used to build palaces and their walls, while stone was used to build tombs and temples. Egyptian houses were built out mud composed from the Nile River. Mesopotamia and Egypt’s geographical features are similar because they were both located in river valleys. Being located in a river valley often became an advantage and a disadvantage for both civilizations because they experienced yearly floods that left them with fertile soil for planting crops, but they also experienced several deaths due to the floods. Mesopotamia and Egypt relied heavily on farming to produce food. Mesopotamia and Egypt were both polytheistic which means they believed in many Gods. It was important for them both to sustain a healthy relationship with the Gods in order to survive, have a reliable harvest and trade with other countries. Mesopotamians and Egyptians were highly skilled in glassmaking, pottery, and constructing new buildings and palaces.
Not only is it important to understand the differences between Mesopotamian and Egyptian history it is also important to understand the similarities that both civilizations share. Their individual governments, languages, and architecture make them unique in their very own way, but their similarities allow you to appreciate them even more. “I pledge on my honor I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this work, and I am unaware of any violation of the Honor Code by others.” -Sharmetria Richardson
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