Free «Egypt and Mesopotamia» Essay Sample

Civilization is one of the basic units of historical time, which represents the countries and peoples of the self-sufficient community. The era of ancient civilizations lasted thousands of years and covered the period of formation of cities and states around the world. Many scholars of the Middle Ages used the term to compare and contrast the civilized society with the primitive one. The emergence of the ancient civilizations is a complex and lengthy process. The most ancient civilizations on earth were the city-states of Mesopotamia and the civilization of Ancient Egypt. In fact, the nations of Egypt and Mesopotamia had many similar features as well as a large number of differences. The goal of this essay is to analyze the differences and similarities of the two states.

Differences Of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamian Civilizations

The civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt had many different and at the same time, similar elements of development and existence. These points compare and contrast Mesopotamia and Egypt, highlighting how Egypt and Mesopotamia developed uniquely despite their geographical proximity. Feel free to expand on these points in your essay: 

Aspect Ancient Egypt Ancient Mesopotamia
Political Structure Pharaoh seen as a divine representative of the gods. Self-governing regional states; kings not considered divine.
Religion and Culture Women could inherit property. Women could engage in trade but not inherit property.
Writing and Language Hieroglyphics with alphabetic elements. Cuneiform written on clay tablets.
Geography and Natural Resources Nile River provided fertile land and protection. Tigris and Euphrates rivers provided fertile land but less protection.
Social Hierarchy and Law Centralized and unified structure with a strict social hierarchy. Frequent changes in leadership and social structures due to invasions.
Art and Architecture Consistent and unified, reflecting stable political climate. Varied greatly due to changing political and cultural climate.

Political Structure and Religion in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamian

The first important difference concerns the state system and religion. Ancient Egyptians created a bureaucratic rule that reflected their social system, but Mesopotamia had a diverse social structure that led to a decentralized political system. Next important feature concerns the belief in life after death. In fact, Egyptians imagined the afterlife as something bright and beautiful and tried to “receive award of eternal life” (Kleiner 53). In contrast, the inhabitants of Mesopotamia imagined death as a terrible event. Thus, Egyptians expected afterlife throughout their whole lives while the population of Mesopotamia feared death. Moreover, they respected temples because these structures made “profound impressions on the people” (Kleiner 34). “The Sumerians and their successors in Mesopotamia worshiped numerous deities, mostly nature gods” (Kleiner 34). Mesopotamian inhabitants believed that religion consisted in the service of the gods and played an important role in the higher structures. In addition, ancient Egyptians and residents of Mesopotamia had different languages. Egyptians used the Old Egyptian language, and the inhabitants of Mesopotamia used the “Akkadian language” (Kleiner 44).

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The forms of government of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia were also similar. Pharaohs, priests, and officials were the heads of the state in Egypt. In fact, Mesopotamia had the same authority’s structure. However, Mesopotamia had kings instead of pharaohs. Kleiner concludes that “Sumerian rulers were god’s representatives on earth” (Kleiner 32). Moreover, the role of the priests was very different in the states. For example, the priests had not played any important political role in Egypt. On the contrary, “the rulers and priests in Mesopotamia directed all communal activities (Kleiner 32)”. Officials in Egypt were chosen from the most respected, authoritative, and brightest people in the country. In contrast, the post of the official in Mesopotamia was inherited. Moreover, the original source of rule in Egypt was its customs and pharaohs. In fact, the purpose of punishment in Egypt and Mesopotamia was frightening. However, the laws in Egypt were more organized and assembled.

Furthermore, both Egypt and Mesopotamia had influential rulers that greatly contributed to the development of these civilizations.  Kleiner states that “rulers of Mesopotamia call themselves kings of the world” (Kleiner 53). Mesopotamian states owe much to King Hammurabi who introduced an effective domestic and foreign policy and became the first king of Babylon. “In the early 18th century BC, the Babylonian king Hammurabi formulated a set of nearly 300 laws for his people” (Kleiner 44). These laws were engraved on the large black basalt columns, and the text was divided into three parts. In fact, Mesopotamian law did not contain general principles of law and their presentation system as the Egyptian rules. Moreover, Hammurabi’s laws, unlike the Egyptian law codifications did not contain the religious and moralizing element. “Hammurabi’s laws governed all aspects of Babylonian life, from commerce and property to murder and theft to martial fidelity, inheritances, and the treatment of slaves” (Kleiner 44).

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Writing and Language in Egypt and Mesopotamia

These points compare and contrast the writing and language aspects of Mesopotamia and Egypt, highlighting how Egypt and Mesopotamia had unique approaches to the development of their writing systems despite their geographical proximity. You can use these points to build upon the topic of writing and language in your essay.


  • Both Civilizations Developed Writing Systems Independently: The earliest writing systems evolved independently in Egypt and Mesopotamia around the same time.
  • Pictographic Origins: Both started with pictographic characters that represented objects or concepts.


• Evolution of Writing:

  • Mesopotamia: The Sumerians developed cuneiform, which began as pictographs but evolved to include phonetic elements representing sounds and semantic elements representing meanings.
  • Egypt: Hieroglyphics were used, which included alphabetic elements and logos. They also spawned cursive scripts for faster writing.

• Purpose and Complexity:

  • Mesopotamia: Writing evolved with the civilization’s complexity, serving various administrative and literary purposes.
  • Egypt: Writing was used for administrative and religious purposes, with a strong emphasis on monumental inscriptions.

The development of writing in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia was a pivotal step in human civilization, providing a means to record history, culture, and administration. While Mesopotamia and Egypt began with pictographic characters, their scripts evolved differently to meet their distinct societal needs.

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Geography and Natural Resources in Ancient Egypt and Ancient Mesopotamia

The compare and contrast points between geography and natural resources played a crucial role in shaping the civilizations of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Both civilizations thrived along fertile river valleys, which were central to their agricultural success and societal development. However, the distinct geographical features and resource availability of the Nile and the Tigris-Euphrates river systems led to different approaches to agriculture, architecture, and defense strategies. While Egypt enjoyed the protection of its deserts and the predictable flooding of the Nile, Mesopotamia faced the challenges of more open terrain and unpredictable river behavior. These environmental factors not only influenced the daily lives of their inhabitants but also left a lasting impact on the cultural and historical legacy of these ancient civilizations. As we delve into the specifics, it becomes clear that the environment is a powerful architect of human history.


  • Dependence on Rivers: Both civilizations were dependent on their rivers (the Nile for Egypt and the Tigris and Euphrates for Mesopotamia) for irrigation, transportation, and sustenance.
  • Agricultural Prosperity: The fertile lands along these rivers allowed Mesopotamia and Egypt to develop prosperous agricultural systems.


• Geographical Protection:

  • Egypt: Benefited from natural barriers like deserts and the Nile’s cataracts, which provided protection from invasions.
  • Mesopotamia: Lacked natural barriers, making it more vulnerable to invasions and influences from surrounding cultures.

• Resource Availability:

  • Egypt: Had access to a variety of building materials like limestone and granite, as well as gemstones like emerald and turquoise for jewelry making.
  • Mesopotamia: Had fewer natural building resources, leading to the use of mud bricks for construction.

• Climate:

  • Egypt: Experienced a hot, dry desert climate with very little rainfall, moderated by winds from the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Mesopotamia: Also had a hot climate but was more susceptible to unpredictable flooding, which could both support and devastate agriculture.

These points compare and contrast the geographical features and natural resources of both civilizations, highlighting how Egypt and Mesopotamia adapted to their environments in different ways.

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Social Hierarchy and Law in Ancient Egypt and Ancient Mesopotamia

The social hierarchy and legal systems of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia were foundational to their stability and governance. These frameworks not only structured the daily lives of individuals but also reflected the broader cultural and religious ideologies that underpinned these societies. In Egypt, the divine status of the Pharaoh established a rigid social order, while in Mesopotamia, the law codes exemplified a more complex and dynamic approach to social structure. Compare and contrast of these two systems reveals the diversity of ancient legal and social constructs and offers insight into the values and priorities of these remarkable civilizations. As we explore the nuances of their social hierarchies and laws, we gain a deeper understanding of how they influenced and shaped the ancient world.


  • Structured Societies: Both Mesopotamia and Egypt had a structured social hierarchy with a clear distinction between classes.
  • Rule of Law: Both had systems of law that governed the rights and duties of their citizens.


• Divine Kingship:

  • Egypt: The Pharaoh was considered a god on earth, at the top of the social hierarchy, and the ultimate authority.
  • Mesopotamia: Kings were seen as mortal representatives of the gods but not divine themselves.

• Social Mobility:

  • Egypt: Social mobility was not encouraged and rarely observed, as the social order was believed to be decreed by the gods.
  • Mesopotamia: There was more opportunity for social mobility through trade, marriage, and in some cases, military service.

• Law Codes:

  • Egypt: Laws were based on a concept of harmony and balance, known as Ma’at, and were less codified.
  • Mesopotamia: Had detailed law codes, like the Code of Hammurabi, which were strictly enforced.

These points compare and contrast the social structures and legal systems of both civilizations, highlighting how Egypt and Mesopotamia managed their societies and enforced their laws.

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Art and Architecture

Among the great pharaohs of Egypt, there was a remarkable political figure Amenhotep III, the Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt. The reign of Amenhotep III was one of the greatest periods of the prosperity of the ancient Egyptian civilization. Massive temple complexes, monuments of excellent sculptures, and various other works of art were considered as the cultural heritage for the entire world. In fact, many great sculptures and monuments were built in both of civilizations and became another similar feature, the wonders of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Egyptian pyramids on the territory of the ancient cemetery of Giza represented the great ancient culture. However, only three pyramids are preserved today. Similarly, the Hanging Gardens represented a Mesopotamian wonder; however, they did not survive. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were a four-level building with many beautiful rooms that were decorated with plants. The existence of these structures is an important similar feature of these ancient civilizations because the Seven Wonders of the World are considered the main cultural heritage of humanity.

Differences between Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia in Various Aspects

Aspect Ancient Egypt Ancient Mesopotamia
Geography and Natural Resources Benefited from natural barriers and the Nile’s predictable flooding. Lacked natural barriers, faced unpredictable river flooding.
Social Hierarchy and Law Pharaoh was a god on earth, social mobility was rare. Kings were not divine, more social mobility.
Art and Architecture Used stone extensively, art was symbolic and consistent. Used mud-brick, art was diverse and narrative.

To conclude, the civilizations of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamian states had both distinctive and analogous features. . Their geographical locations along fertile river valleys facilitated the development of sophisticated societies, yet their distinct environmental conditions led to different approaches in architecture, social structure, and governance.

They had different religious beliefs and languages but at the same time, similar elements of the type of rule and cultural contributions. While Egypt’s centralized rule under a divine Pharaoh created a stable and consistent society, Mesopotamia’s diverse city-states experienced more fluid social dynamics and governance. In art and architecture, Egypt’s enduring stone monuments contrast with Mesopotamia’s innovative but less permanent mud-brick structures.

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Moreover, the civilization of Mesopotamia believed only in life on earth, and Egyptians expected life after death. The power in Mesopotamia was only inherited while the Egyptian authorities were chosen from the most respected people. However, both nations of Mesopotamia and Egypt  became the creators of world’s wonders: the Great Pyramids and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. These civilizations’ legacies continue to fascinate and inform our understanding of human history, demonstrating the diverse ways in which ancient societies adapted to their environments and shaped their cultural identities.

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