Ancient Civilization flourished in the lands surrounding the Mediterranean sea. Each had it's own distinct views on the social, political, and religious aspects; however, there were many similarities each civilization shared with the others. Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt were mythopoeic societies, while Ancient Greece and Judaic society was vastly more rational in their mindset. Through this paper we will illustrate the similarities, as well as the differences of these fascinating early civilizations.
Approximately 5000 BCE civilization rose from disorder in Mesopotamia, the modern day area of Iran and Iraq, and formed what is arguably the first example of human civilization. It rose upon the banks of the Tigris-Euphrates river, formed by a tribe known as the Sumarians. They were a collections of agriculturally based communities, which coordinated strongly to ease the hardship of farming. The Isolated area and lack of an understanding of the world around them allowed for mythopoeic thinking. The Mesopotamian region was an unpredictable one. The Tigris-Euphrates would flood unexpectedly, and oft times quite destructively. As with mythopoeic societies in general their thinking was cyclical, and their views entirely subjective, in that they related everything to themselves. They had no concept of separatism, What they saw was real, with no distinction anything outside of their 'self'.
They were an anxiety ridden people... their was no continuation in their lives, each event was new and couldn't be foreseen.. Their was no regular pattern of time around which to base their lives upon, thus they struggled from event to event, Basing their faith in their gods to get them through each day. Constant rituals and devout following of their gods brought forth the rising of the sun each day, and to create any hopeful circumstances.
Ancient Mesopotamia consisted of Highly organized, independent city-states, each ruled by a mortal king chosen by the Gods, a view you will see is quite different from the ancient Egyptians. Due to the Ethnic and cultural diversity of the region, city-states were independent of each other and constant rivalries arose. They were a fragmented and disunified civilization, when left to their own device. However, throughout ancient times, various city-states would gain enough power and influence to conquer the entire region. The conquered peoples would assume the god of their conqueror and suppress their own. This was true for all but the Assyrians... when they wee conquered they maintained their god, and disavowed the legitimacy of the others. This helped pave the way for the ancient Judaic society's view of the divine. The king, along with the nobels and priests controlled the majority of the land, wich was worked by their slaves. Their was no room for social-class jumping, in this rigid society. The main interesting aspect of their political system was the concept of accountability. The king was considered a direct reflection of their god on earth. It was his duty to see that the god was kept happy. If his city-state was suffering, it was seen as the kings failure to do his duty; and he could be removed. The limited government concept was shared with the Greeks, though not in a mythopoeic context.
Mesopotamia's religious structure was similar to Egypt's in that it employed professional priests who facilitated rituals within their temples. The priesthood, was powerful and influential in both political and economic matters. They were also the chief land owners in the region. They believed in an afterlife, however it was cast as a miserable place. Which reflected their overall idea of a chaotic world.
Mesopotamia underwent many political changes throughout it's history, due to it's disorganization. The Sumarians were conquered by the Akkadians, the Akkadians by the Babylonians who were conquered by the Assyrians, who eventually crumbled only to rebuild again to fall to the Babylonians. Persia...
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