Michael Jones 10/5/2012 Cabrera Egypt, Mesopotamia and Ancient Greek Civilizations The Ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamia, and Greeks were some of the oldest complex societies, although similar in many aspects. Mesopotamia is located in the Fertile Crescent, land in and between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers usually known as modern day Iraq and Eastern Syria. (24) In Egypt, the Nile River creates a fertile valley which is rich in nutrients and essential to their survival. The Nile flows from Burundi, slightly south of the equator eventually traveling through Egypt and into the Mediterranean.
Ancient Greece is situated very closely to Egypt so trading was easy between them. How are these three civilizations comparable and different? The Purpose of this essay is to compare and contract Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece, Using the features of a complex society Subsistence, Social Stratification, Government, and Economic Systems. Subsistence of the Mesopotamian culture relied on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers which flooded in the summertime, when crops were preparing to mature, the floodwaters washed away settler’s homes. 25) The settler’s attempted to counter this by producing channels that drained the water and rich nutrients to their crops. (25) This shows a connection between Egyptian complex societies and the techniques in which they utilized the Nile River. The Egyptians often constructed their cities close to the Nile as it provided irrigation for farming, fishing, and a rich supply of bathing and drinking water. The Nile was much more a reliable source of water than the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Mesopotamia. (30) The River was much more powerful and deposited more silt when it did flood.
The Subsistence of Ancient Greece was very different, farming was complicated due to the limited amounts of good soil and arable cropland. Greece instead set up trade routes with the Egyptians they traded essential items such a wheat grain, art and other commodities. They had a strong connection with the Egyptian culture and are believed to exchange ideas. Social Stratification was very diverse in Mesopotamia. On the top of Mesopotamia’s social structure was priests. Mesopotamia did not possess a monotheistic belief but worshiped multiple deities, priests were believed to have supernatural powers.
This allows them to be put on a hierarchy of Mesopotamia’s community. Upper-Class consisted of Government officials, wealthy land owners and entrepreneurs. Upper-Class men of wore jewelry and expensive clothing. Upper-Class men owned slaves which did all of their manual toiling. Lower-Class consisted of individuals who received money for their work. These individuals consisted of farmers, fisherman, and pottery makers. If any of the classes were falling too far into debt they could sell or trade their wives and children into slavery. Slaves are considered the lowest class and were often criminals or prisoners of war.
In addition, slaves did receive some rights such as owning land and having the ability to purchase their freedom. Mesopotamia Social Stratification has strong similarities to Egyptians. In Egypt, the Pharaoh was believed to be a god on earth and possessed most of the power. He was liable for enacting laws and assisting to maintain order, guaranteeing Egypt was not attacked by foreign invaders. He also to spoke to the God’s to maintain the Nile’s prosperity. The Viziers was the Pharaoh’s chief advisor and is also known as the high priest. All official documents had to have Viziers stamp of approval.
Nobles were responsible for enacting laws and keeping order over religious groups. Priests were responsible for maintaining the God’s happiness. Scribes were the only individuals who could read and write, thus articulating their knowledge. They recorded history and maintained an accurate depiction of how many Army personal were on duty or the amount of food produced at harvest. Soldiers were responsible for the defense of Egypt, ensuring foreign invaders do not attack. Craftsmen were pottery makers, sculptors, painters and much more. Egypt, unlike Mesopotamia did not have a slave markets.
Slaves were usually prisoners captured in wartimes. They could often be located in the households of Pharaohs or working in mines. This structure of Egyptian culture held similar relationships to the Greeks. Ancient Greece had a social structure that matches some of Egypt’s and Mesopotamian. Although, Ancient Greece did not have Pharaohs, they did however have an upper-class. To be a member of this class you couldn’t have a job and an individual had to possess many talents and wealth. The middle-class or Metics known as free men of foreign birth were ineligible for citizenship.
They were mostly professional men merchants, contractors, manufactures, managers, tradesmen and craftsmen. The lower class was partly made of freedmen, individuals who were once slaves. These individuals could thus come up from being a slave by purchasing their freedom or anything else to being a member of the middle class. Slaves were often prisoners of war, victims of slave raids, infants rescued from exposure, and criminals. All of the social stratification connects to each other and some diversity can be seen in each society.
Government in Mesopotamia was similar to modern democracies. The Sumerians in Mesopotamia elected an assembly of individuals similar to the ancient Greeks to operate the government. The kings in Sumer were elected by the assembly and as time proceeded the Lugals considered themselves to be godlike. They passed down their power to family members once they were too old. Due to the fact the Lugals considered themselves godlike the ancient Mesopotamian government was similar modern day theocracies. The Lugals established military enforcement and established laws to society.
They also had a duty to over look most building projects. Subsequently, Mesopotamia divided into city-states and was ruled by governors in later periods. Ancient Egypt was also a theocracy, dictated by a clergy. The Pharaohs advisors were most likely the priests they were the only ones trusted to execute the Pharaohs commands. Government officials included the Vizier, or the prime minister, the chief treasurer, the tax collector and the army’s commander. These officials had to report and plead allegiance to the Pharaoh. The land was separated into provinces called nomes.
Each one of these nomes possessed a governor, who was chosen by the pharaoh and had to answer to the Vizier. Taxes were paid in goods and services. The vast majorities of Egyptians individuals were peasants and worked near the fertile Nile River, they did not have a voice in the government and they accepted this fact because it was supported by their religion. Ancient Greece had many different forms of government including a democracy like the Mesopotamians. This was because of the fact there were different cities and towns, each with their own requirements and demands.
They were called polis, which in modern terms is translated as politics evolved. In the Bronze Age the city-states, Mycenae, Sparta, Athens, and Corinth Ithaca were all democracies or also known as polis states. Athens and Sparta were cities that had quite a powerful government. Sparta was a main military power compare to Athens which took the role of a more democratic society. This system is still going strong today by peoples opinion. This is similar to Mesopotamians government where they appointed an assembly to rule the government.
Ancient Greek governments were classified as monarchies, oligarchies, tyrannies and democracies. None of these governments were free of problems, women and slaves and had no influence in the government’s activities. As time preceded the legal system transformed into a pre-legal society where there was not an effective way to deal with the right and wrong that went on in society. Finally their legal society evolved and the Acts of laws was created and it developed punishments and created a more balanced legal society. Greek and Mesopotamia’s government were both similar.
Peasants and lower class do not have a major role in the government’s decisions in both societies. Mesopotamians economic system is unlike present day societies. There was no money system instead, individuals bartered goods, animals and other tangible commodities. Bartering is trading one item for another, and the values of these items were determined by demand, exotic qualities and many additional variables. There were a number of laws pertaining to business and reflect a diversified economic base and extended and sophisticated trading networks.
Ancient Egyptian economic system shared characteristics with the Mesopotamians. Egyptians also relied on a way of bartering as their money. They had many farms and grew livestock to trade for their tools, which they used to produce food. Egyptians also collected different types of minerals they could trade for foods. The metals, food and minerals they collected can be traded around the Mediterranean and Red Sea. The Egyptians traded many items to ensure they lived much longer. The economy was based solely on exchanging Gold and Wheat.
This allowed their civilization to prosper and ensured happiness and prosperity to the Egyptian community. Ancient Greek society was one of the first civilizations that possessed a currency which served as a medium of exchange. The technique of Minting arrived in mainland Greece around 550 B. C. E. The minting of coins lent an irrefutable prestige to any Greek city or city-state. The people of ancient Greece traded with other cultures (like Egypt) by traveling through the Mediterranean Sea and were masters of building cargo ships to transport these items.
The Ancient Greeks focused their economic system on ship building, farming, making pottery and precious metals. These economic systems intertwine between each other. It’s seen that all of them have extensive trading networks between each other. This categorizes them with some of the most complex intelligent ancient societies in history. Mesopotamia, Egypt and Ancient Greece were all connected and through their economic systems. Most of the civilizations shared commodities between each other and bartered valuable recourses. These were the most sophisticated complex societies in history.
Comparing the entire cultures one can observe how each of them is associated to each other. Egypt and Ancient Greece held extended and sophisticated trading networks. Egypt shared the similar characteristics as Mesopotamia, both cultures relied of the Rivers for their survival. All of the civilizations held related social stratifications with higher positions for the rich and powerful and believed resolutely in slavery. Governments of the societies that were analyzed shared a common form of democracy. Many of the lower-class peasants in societies were not authorized to vote.
Comparing our societies using Subsistence, Social Stratification, Government, and Economic Systems allowed us to take an in depth analysis of the culture and diversity. Despite the many differences among the city-states and complex societies of Greece, Egypt and Mesopotamia they are much more similar than many individuals may confer. Works Cited Valerie Hansen, Kenneth R. Curtis, Voyages in World History, Breif Edition Volume 1 to 1600, Wadsworth Publishing, December 30, 2008, October 7, 2012. Pages 24, 25, 30. (These are the numbers put into the essay. )