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Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt

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Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt

Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt are both cradles of civilization. Both contributed greatly to human development through their achievements, failures, peoples, scientific accomplishments, philosophies, religions, and contributions.

Mesopotamia is a rich flat plain created by deposits from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. At the southern end of this plain developed the first recognizable civilization, in the area known as Sumer. In 3000 B.C. Sumer contained a dozen or more city-states, each ruled by its own king and worshiped its own patron deity. The citizens of these city-states were classified into three classes: nobles and priests, commoners, and slaves. In the center of a Sumerian city usually stood a tower culminating in a temple for the patron god of the city. The Sumerians believed that this patron god owned the whole city. The Geography of this city helped a lot with the trade, and led to mathematics as well. The Sumerians developed a precise system of mathematical notation called the sexagesimal, in which the number sixty is the main element. We even use this system in our world today! The Sumerian' chief contribution to later civilizations was writing, even though their script was pictographic.

Through these pictographic scripts historians found a long narrative known as the Epic of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh is a great hero and ruler who sets out to recover cedar from northern lands. He travels with his companion Enkidu, who is killed by the storm god, Enlil. Mourning the loss of his companion and confronted by death himself, Gilgamesh travels the world in search of eternal life. He ends up finding the plant of eternal youth, but a serpent swallows it while he is bathing. The epic ends with his death and funeral. The Sumerians believed that the gods created people to be their slaves.

The first Great Warlord came from the region of Akkad, an area north of Babylon. His name was Sargon, and he conquered all of Mesopotamia. Sargon was from a group of people called the Semites. The only difference between the Semites and the Sumerians were linguistics. Semites spoke many different languages like Akkadian, Hebrew, and Canaanite. The Sumerian people adapted the Akkadian language. Sargon and his successors ruled from Akkad until 2230 B.C, when internal disagreement ended the Akkadian kingdom. The Sumerians regained control of southern Mesopotamia and established the Third Dynasty of Ur. The ruler of this dynasty was Ur-Nammu. He was the first ruler to establish law codes and spell out regulations and penalties.

Another great ruler was King Hammurabi of Babylon. He set up the Code of Hammurabi, which includes 300 sections of carefully organized codes that ruled the Babylonians. Hammurabi was the first example of a lawgiver. He provided one of the greatest written documents of his time: a stone column with a long series of legal judgments published with his name. Hammurabi even designed codes for the family life. He took care of the women and children in his society. He regulated marriage with care to secure a stable life for future generations. He combined both law and religious belief to create an ordered society. The Mesopotamians built on foundations laid by the Sumerians using their sexagesimal system. They had multiplication tables, exponents, tables for computing interest, and textbooks with problems for solution. They also developed systems of astrology and astronomy, and even created a lunar calendar.

The early cities of Mesopotamia fell from one warlord to another, and were constantly changing, unlike the kingdoms of Ancient Egypt that kept its stability. The Egyptians lived along the Nile River, which probably made it easier to govern the people. The King was the owner and ruler of all Egypt and was considered a god by the people. The economy was a royal monopoly, the peoples duties was to serve the King. In the old Kingdom the Egyptians built three great pyramids in Giza. Pyramids were built for the tombs of the kings, and were one of the main activities of the kings during their rule. Egypt's political power in early societies was based on religion. The Egyptians believed that if they served their king to the fullest they would have a pleasant life after death.

The God that ruled the dead was Osiris. The Egyptians believed that he was the one that taught people how to prosper and made the laws. In the Old Kingdom the chief purpose of living was to prepare for the afterlife. Egyptians mummified the dead bodies and placed luxurious items in their tombs. The Egyptians also believed in Maat. Maat was a cosmic force that created things in the right relationships. Maat seemed to show a new way of keeping moral behavior.

The Egyptians developed a type of writing called hieroglyphs. Like the script of the

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