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Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Indus Valley

Categories: EgyptMesopotamia

Throughout the history of Earth, there have been many fascinating developments, the most prominent being the first civilizations, Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. They had many similarities, such as characteristics of early civilizations and social structures, but they also had their differences. The most embossed differences included the divergent geography, prior belief, trade, relations with other civilizations, and politics. The earliest societies, such as Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt exhibiting indicator traits of civilization developed along the floodplains of great rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates in Iraq, and the Nile in Egypt.

People had settled in Mesopotamia by 7000 B. C. and the First Dynasty of Egyptian rulers was founded before 3000 B. C. , implying a much earlier period of occupation in the Nile River valley and delta. To protect themselves and channel the forces of nature, people living near the rivers created new technologies and forms of political and social organization. The geographical similarities were that both civilizations resided on banks of major rivers, Tigris & Euphrates, and Nile.

Another similarity is that both civilizations developed a writing system.

It first appeared in Mesopotamia before 3300 B. C. E. Cuneiform was the name of it, and wedge-shaped symbols represented words or syllables. Hieroglyphics were the Egyptians’ way of writing, and it had been developed by the beginning of the early Dynastic period. Pictorial symbols represented sounds, syllables, or concepts. Literacy was confined to a relatively small group of scribes and administrators in both of these civilizations due to long period of study required to master the systems.

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Also, both civilizations had social classes, with the king and the royal families at the top, next were the priests, local leaders and artisans, and lastly, slaves and peasants occupied the bottom.

Both Mesopotamians and Egyptians acquired substantial knowledge about mathematics, engineering, medicine, and transportation for various reasons such as, creating calendars, calculating the quantity of agricultural produce, building temples and pyramids, and practice astronomy. Egypt and Mesopotamia were in contrast to one another in many ways. Egypt emphasized strong central authority, while Mesopotamian politics shifted more frequently over a substructure of regional city-states. They were also culturally different; Egypt developed in relative isolation, all foreigners were considered enemies while Mesopotamia was a multicultural society.

Also, Egypt was well endowed with natural resources and far more self-sufficient than Mesopotamia. They used papyrus reeds growing in marshy areas to make sails, ropes, and a kind of paper. Hunters pursued the abundant wild animals and birds in the marshes. Egypt’s art and architecture are very different from Mesopotamia. From pyramids to temples, rigid pharaohs to flowing art of Amarna, Egypt’s style was totally different from Mesopotamia’s. Mesopotamian art focused on less monumental structures.

In Mesopotamia, women lost social standing and freedoms in societies where agriculture superseded hunting and gathering; whereas in Egypt, they are depicted with dignity and respect, could own properties, and inheritance from their parents was possible. Both civilizations traded differently but Mesopotamia was more productive due to technological advance. Egypt’s interests abroad focused on maintain access to valuable resources rather than acquiring territory. Both Mesopotamia and Egypt were ruled by kings, however, in Egypt, their kings were called pharaohs and they had significantly more power than the Mesopotamian kings of the city-states.

Also, relating the above comparisons to larger global context, The Indus Valley is one of the world’s earliest urban civilizations, along with its contemporaries, Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. One of the differences between these three civilizations is that there is a large quantity of metal in the Indus Valley than in Mesopotamia and Egypt, and most metals are utilitarian tools and everyday objects. However, more jewelry and other decorative objects have been unearthed in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Also, Indus Valley people were technologically skilled in irrigation and using the potter’s wheel. They also have a system of writing with more than 400 signs. Like the Mesopotamians, the people of Indus Valley had widespread trading contacts reaching as far as Mesopotamia. There is little known about the political, social, and economic institutions of Inds Valley, however, there is a statue called the “Priest-King” because some scholars believe it may represent someone with religious and secular authority, but the true identity of this person is unknown.

Conclusively, certain traits are indicators of civilization such as: political system based on control of a defined territory, long-distance trade, and major advances in science and the arts are among others, which the earliest societies, such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Indus Valley have exhibited. They were the first civilizations to develop high levels of political centralization and urbanization. Because little is known about the Indus Valley people, there is not a lot of information for their political and social status; however, they clearly possessed the technology which par with those found in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

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Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Indus Valley. (2017, Feb 11). Retrieved from

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