Ancient Egypt civilization arose along the fertile soil of the Nile Valley, with the harsh desert surrounding either side of the valley. In Mesopotamia which is now known as Southern Iraq, the first cities appeared on irrigated lands. The civilization of these cities occurred as a result of consolidation political and economic power.
The Nile River had various competitive kingdoms before 3100 BC. After centuries of unsettled conditions, Egypt became a united river valley state under a leader named Narmer.
In Mesopotamia, the Sumerian civilization was a series of multiple city states, each with their own aggressive ruler and patron gods and goddesses. All which relied on irrigation agriculture and highly centralized government.
Ancient Egyptian Civilization
The civilization in Ancient Egypt endured for 3000 years. After a centuries of adjustment, the “Old Kingdom” pharaohs ruled over a powerful centralized kingdom. The pharaohs were seen as Gods who had power over the life-giving Nile flood.
Later the kings ruled using a philosophy of ma’at, which means balance. According to an article on The First Civilizations: Egypt and Mesopotamia, the pharaohs boasted that they had control over an orderly kingdom where there was serene order in the cosmos. Once they died, they joined the sun god, Re, on his daily journey through the heavens (Highbrow, 2018).
The Old Kingdom pharaohs were buried in large pyramids which symbolized ascending staircases to the heavens. It was also symbolic to sun rays that linked heaven and earth. Near Cairo, the pyramids of Giza, commemorated various pharaohs. Due to a series of drastic droughts around 2180 BC, the Old Kingdom disintegrated.
Over a few centuries, the competing provincial officials competed for power and after 2040 their subjugations resulted to a new unified state. The middle kingdom pharaohs were active leaders that improved their bureaucracy and traded with other Mediterranean states. However, in 1640 BC, a period of political instability reoccurred, which came to an end when Upper Egypt pharaohs pursued the south and turned the country into a more militaristic state. (Highbrow, 2018) Egypt came under increasing influence after 1070 BC as the state weakened and being conquered by Romans and was made a province of their empire in 30 BC.
The Sumerians Civilization
Cities such as Uruk, developed in Mesopotamia before 3100 BC. Sumerian civilization developed as a series of city-states after 300 BC. The Sumerians were expert long-distance travelers, which made written records vital. These were recorded in a wedge-like script known as cuneiform on clay tablets. (Highbrow, 2018)
The Sumerians had new way of cultivating fields which was the use of metal tools and weapons as well as an alloy of copper and tin. Competing city-states were linked by political alliances and refined businesses which were rising to become a part of a continuously changing political jigsaw. These diplomatic changes causes disputes over water rights. Overtime, several larger cities came about, as competition for trade and resources increased. The rulers of Uruk had broader ambitions to expand to the eastern Mediterranean coast. In the empire of King Ur-Nammu of uruk, there was constant economic and political rivalries developing. He ruled Sumer and upstream Akkad in 2112 BC. He then created an empire that expanded to the North. This well-governed empire gave way to Semitic rulers of Babylon in 1990 BC. Their ruler Hammurabi, produced the first written code around 1792 BC. (Highbrow, 2018)
After 1000 BC, the Assyrians of Old Testament is now northern Iraq which competed with Egypt and other states for the control of the Mediterranean. The Assyrian state was overthrown by the Babylonians in 612 BC. Thereafter, Cyrus of Persia dominated them, resulting to Mesopotamia joining the Persian Empire.
The Sumerians were the earliest of people to develop skills in fabricating copper. The Sumerians art-form were rather as many of their objects produced were life-like. This state was more advanced than those of the Nile as they had developed a system of writing, an art which the Egyptians acquired later. They kept land records and were mathematicians. The Sumerians were masters of sculptures.
Egypt is known for its Lotus and Papyrus style columns. The columns resembled either a trunk or a bundle of stems, the shape of the capital and the top of the column had a plant theme. St the transition of the capital to the shaft, five bands are found which represent the lashing which held the bundle of stems together, of which the earliest columns were made.
The location of the pyramids were planned so that it was in remote areas of the desert and far away from tomb raiders. The architects would then begin to design the pyramid and the side of the pyramid had to be orientated with the North-South line. The Egyptians used limestone to build the pyramid so that it could last longer as pyramids were seen as a sacred place of eternal life. The workers used straight and spiral ramps to transport the large stones for the construction of the pyramid. The workers were poor people of the community as they were paid with food. The rate of pay for workers was according to their expertise and skill.
Before the burial chamber could be roofed, the workers had to lower the pharaoh’s sarcophagus into the chamber. They filled the chamber with tons of sand and then dragged the sarcophagus. They would then scoop the sand out of the chamber and the coffin would move deeper into chamber until it was in place. After that, more sand would be added to the chamber for the roof slabs. The roof slabs had to be strong and positioned correctly as they would carry the weight of the entire pyramid. To finish off the pyramid, a white fine layer of limestone was laid on the outside walls so that the pyramid could shine in the sun.
In the New Kingdom of Egypt, two types temples were constructed, namely the cult temples and the mortuary temples. The construction of pyramids stopped and pharaohs preferred to be buried in the Valley of the Kings in rock tombs. Hatshepsut built her temple at Deir el Bahri and Amenhotep III commissioned The Colossi of Memnon.
In the 19th century the pharaohs such as Seti I and Ramses the Great were associated with Moses and the bible. Priests then had more power than previous in centuries and new cult centres emerged in Egypt. An increase in protective talisman and amulets were needed as people started believing in funerals and mortuary rituals more. Egypt became monotheistic during the reign of Akhenaten, this period lasted for about 16 years.
Egypt began to flourish and gain more wealth, luxury and power as the state had control of the gold mines in Nubia. During Hatshepsut’s reign, art changed and portraits of men and women became more feminine and even included smiles. Whereas royals were depicted with slightly built chests, large hips and thighs in Akhenaten’s reign. Turquoise and copper were mined in the middle kingdom.