In ancient China and Egypt, two civilizations came to be. Egypt grew to be a vast empire while the Zhou dynasty was one of the longest lasting Chinese dynasties. They both had many similarities and differences in their social and political structure. The political structure in Egypt was based on a theocracy with a centralized control of administration, while the Zhou had a decentralized administration and left much power in local hands.
They both had in common the fact that the leaders of these civilizations were blood related and had a close relationship with the gods. On the social structural end of the civilizations Egypt and the Zhou both had hierarchy’s and class differentiations. Where these two civilizations contrast is the fact that the Zhou was based on a patriarchal society and gave little rights to women while Egypt had slaves and gave their women more rights than the Zhou.
Along the Nile River, Egypt formed a strong, powerful, political system. The government consisted of a theocracy where the Pharaoh, also known as the supreme leader of ancient Egypt, was looked upon as a god. He was believed to be a descendant from the god Osirus. The people believed the gods controlled the forces of nature and were the reasons for the annual flooding which brought a sufficient food supply for the civilization. When these beliefs occurred, they directly related these happenings to the power of the pharaoh. In the Zhou dynasty, their government could also be considered a theocracy; the people looked up to the king as a descendant of the god of Spirit.
They used the Mandate of Heaven in which the king was directly related to the gods. The mandate stated that the king only had the mandate of rule if he acted in the interest of his people. If he was weak and was defeated he argued that he lost the power of mandate. The Zhou rulers would also communicate to the Gods through a ritual that consisted of oracle bones. With the outcomes, the king was able to decipher the readings and either communicate with the gods or predict the future. In the Zhou dynasty, a series of kings ruled. This can be classified as a similarity between the two civilizations.
Both settlements rulers were kings and also blood related. The Zhou dynasty king position would be passed down to a family member of the king; this is also true for the pharaohs position in Egypt. In most cases the father would pass his role down to his son. While these two political structures had many similarities they also had modest differences. One of these differences was that the rulers of Egypt created a single unified empire. The Zhou dynasty was never able to accomplish such a great task. Under the rule of Menes, Egypt was able to become unified. This event lead to the growth of the power of kings and leading to them being known as gods.
One last difference is that the Zhou did not have a centralized administration like the Egyptians did. Instead, they distributed power to local rulers in return for loyalty across the area in which the Zhou ruled. They found this method an easier way to rule such a large state. With a more diverse people, some rulers find it more sufficient to leave power in local hands to make the transition of taking over another state more seamless. In Egypt, the opposite was occurring. This empire contained a centralized administration that was involved in the trading process as well as collecting taxes and so on.
In the areas of social structure as well there are differences and similarities between the two civilizations. One aspect of each social structure that you can consider to be a similarity is the difference in classes. In Egypt, there was a great separation between the wealthy and the poor. One of the reasons this event happened was due to the fact that when the centuries progressed, only the wealthy were able to send their children to school. In ancient Egypt, you had to be educated to have a high class job and so they cycle kept repeating itself. In the Zhou civilization there was class structures also. One can realize the difference in social classes by the burials that took place.
In Egypt, pharaohs were given elaborate burials in pyramids with gold and jewels surrounding them for the afterlife. In the meanwhile, the poor could not even afford mummification. In the Zhou dynasty, the wealthy were given more elaborate burials also while the poor were thrown in pits. One other similarity in the social structure is the Zhou and Egypt were a patriarchal society. This means that the male gender was more dominant than the female. Men were given more rights then women.
But another difference is in Egyptian society, women were given more rights then women in the Zhou. Egyptian women were able to own property and be active in public life while women in the Zhou were bound to their home. One last difference between the two is that slaves in Egypt were a prominent social class. Slaves in Egypt were the lowest of the classes and usually treated with little respect. There were virtually no slaves in the Zhou dynasty, peasants being the lowest class.
In conclusion, the Zhou dynasty and ancient Egypt both had many similarities in their social and political structures. The two civilizations both had theocracies and blood related kings. Egypt had a centralized administration and the Zhou did not. In the end, both civilizations were successful even with the different techniques each used. Both had many accomplishments with the types of political and social structures that contributed in making some cultures that still exist to this day.