The civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and China were all different but were also developed similar ways of doing things. The political, economic and intellectual outlooks of these ancient peoples say a lot about their ways of life. The religious views of Egypt and Mesopotamia were rather different. II. Politics The political thinking of these ancient civilizations definitely had their differences and also their similarities. A. Mesopotamia Mesopotamia was divided into city-states. They saw each city-state as a divine copy of heaven on earth.
They viewed kingship as divine in origin. One could also view Mesopotamia as a primitive democracy. They had a consul responsible for everyday affairs and a government to administer the laws. The king Hammurabi of Mesopotamia wrote down a code of law. The Code of Hammurabi was harsh and made many distinctions between the classes. It gave us the whole “an eye for an eye” theory. B. Egypt In ancient Egypt, the king was the supreme ruler of the country and was known as a pharaoh. He was also the highest level spiritual leader. The Egyptians believed that the office of pharaoh was divine.
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The reigning king was viewed as a god. Under the king was the vizier who ran parts of the government on behalf of the king. Egypt was divided into provinces and each province was headed by a governor. C. China The political institution of ancient China was the city-state. The Shang kings possessed political, economic and religious authority. Kings were not considered divine but were high priests of the state. The Chou continued the Shang pattern of living. Each of these civilizations had very similar political systems. They all had kings, governments, religions and a social structure.
Each of them started off rather similar and then developed into civilizations with rather different political systems. III. Economics The economies of these ancient civilizations were very similar. A. Mesopotamia The economy Mesopotamia was a combination of agriculture, business and trade. Large-scale irrigation made the expansion of agriculture possible and provided the base of the Mesopotamian civilization. Mesopotamians developed specialized crafts and supported private entrepreneurship. They also were involved in foreign and domestic trade. B. Egypt Egypt’s economy was also based on agriculture.
Egypt grew prosperous from the surplus of food from the fertile Nile valley. Egyptians developed industries and began to engage in trade. They traded their metalwork, crops for resources with surrounding civilizations like Mesopotamia. C. China The economy of ancient China was based on agriculture. China was made up of farming villages along its rivers. Manufacturing and trade were carried out by merchants and artisans in walled towns. The economies of these civilizations all started with agriculture. From there they developed industries and began to trade. IV. Intellectual
The civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt and China all contributed their own intellectual outlooks and advances to history. A. Mesopotamia Mesopotamia developed a form of writing known as cuneiform. Their writing evolved from pictures into signs. Mesopotamians used writing mainly for record keeping. They would put business transactions into writing and had a written code of law. They also had literature like The Epic of Gilgamesh. The Epic of Gilgamesh is about one of the earliest passions of man, the search for eternal life. The Mesopotamians had a school for writing because they wanted trained scribes for different professions.
B. Egypt Writing emerged in Egypt during the first two dynasties and was known as hieroglyphics. At first they were carved in stone but they began to write on papyrus. Egypt also had some form of education. Children of royalty and nobles were educated in the palace. Children of commoners were educated in temples or in the home. Egyptians also made many medical advances and kept records of them. C. China Ancient China also developed writing early on. Their first writings were written on bone. The Chinese also developed philosophy based upon the ideas of Confucianism, Legalism and Daoism.
All of these civilizations were highly intellectual. They all developed writing, religion, education, art and literature. V. Religion A. Mesopotamia The Mesopotamian religion was a form of polytheism. Their physical environment had an impact on their view of the universe. In Mesopotamia, human relationships with the gods were based on subservience. According to Sumerian myth, humans were created to do the manual labor the gods were unwilling to do. The Mesopotamians tend to represent more of a belief system rather than a controlling force in their religion.
The political powers in their society were somewhat separated from their religion. Their kings acted as mediators between the gods and the people. B. Egypt Egypt had a very formal religion. It involved the worship of many gods and goddesses. Their gods took the forms of humans, animals or a combination of the two. They represented forces of nature. The pharaoh was at the head of their religion and was considered a god. The Egyptian religion was very controlling and was the center of people’s lives. Most of their daily activities were in some way related to their beliefs. The main goal of Egyptians was to achieve life after death.