Difference Between Egypt and Mesopotamia

Civilization refers to a complex society, which is characterized by established systems of urban development, communication, government, and social stratification.

Modern civilizations of the world have not emerged but evolved over a long period. Egypt and Mesopotamia are two of the major ancient civilizations that are considered a precursor to modern civilizations.

Egypt vs Mesopotamia

The main difference between Egypt and Mesopotamia is that the former is located on the banks of the Nile River and borders Asia and Africa, while the latter is bounded by Euphrates and Tigris rivers in the Fertile Crescent, in present-day Middle East.

Egypt vs Mesopotamia

Egypt is a transcontinental country, which occupies the southwest corner of Asia and northeast corner of Africa, and is located on the banks of the Nile River.

It is one of the most ancient civilizations and is considered a ‘cradle of civilization’ due to major strides made by ancient Egypt in the field of agriculture, writing, centralized government, and organized religion. 

Mesopotamia is an ancient civilization in Western Asia, which was bordered by Euphrates and Tigris rivers in the Fertile Crescent.

The region was of strategic importance and was conquered by many people, including Alexander the Great. It is also associated with some greatest developments in human history in the fields of agriculture, astronomy, and mathematics.

Comparison Table Between Egypt and Mesopotamia

Parameters of ComparisonEgyptMesopotamia
Geographical LocationEgypt is located on the riverside of the Nile river. It borders Asia on one side and Africa on another.Mesopotamia was located between Euphrates and Tigris river, in the Fertile Crescent, i.e. modern-day Middle East.
Political SystemEgypt was a single political unit under a Pharaoh. Egyptians believed in the divine origin of the Pharaoh. Politics was centralized.Mesopotamia was roughly a collection of self-governing states. It later turned into a monarchy. Politics was decentralized.
ArchitectureEgyptian civilization is known for its pyramids.Mesopotamia is famous for its arches, columns, and roofed buildings. Mesopotamian Ziggurat (temple structures) are widely appreciated too.
ScriptEgyptian script was a system of hieroglyphics, based on pictures.The famous cuneiform script is believed to have originated in Mesopotamia.
Condition of WomenWomen participated in society and were given property rights after the death of their husbands.Women did participate in society, but property rights were not given to them. 
Contribution to Material CultureEgyptians made great strides in medicine, through the invention of surgical tools and mummification. Other developments include cosmetics, papyrus sheets, clocks, etc.Mesopotamian civilization made breakthroughs in the field of innovation, technology, mathematics, and astronomy.
ReligionEgyptians practiced polytheism, but due to centralized nature of the state, their religion was organized religion.Mesopotamians also practiced polytheism, but different variants of it emerged in its political sub-units.

What is Egypt?

Egypt is situated on the riverbank of the Nile River. It borders two continents, i.e. Asia and Africa and also possesses the isthmus of Suez. It has one of the longest histories in the world.

Due to strides made by ancient Egyptian civilization in areas of surgery, medicine, organized religion, and urbanization, it is dubbed as the ‘cradle for civilization’.

Egypt was an agricultural economy that relied on the Nile River. The political system in Egypt was based on centralization. Egypt was a single political unit, ruled by a Pharaoh, who was assisted by an excellent bureaucracy.

Egyptians believed in the divine theory of state and considered the Pharaoh as the face of God. Pharaohs were succeeded by their eldest son post their death.

The religious practices of Egyptians were dominated by polytheism. Due to the centralized nature of the state, an organized form of religion developed there.

Besides, women were made to participate in society and were given property rights after the death of their husbands.

Egypt is known for its excellent contributions to material culture, in the form of developments in medical technology, cosmetics, papyrus sheets, etc. It is also known for its magnificent pyramids.

Egyptians also developed their script, which was called hieroglyphics and was based on pictures.

What is Mesopotamia?

Mesopotamia is a historical civilization, based in the northern Fertile Crescent that lay between the Euphrates and Tigris river system. This region forms modern-day Iraq in the Middle East.

Mesopotamia has been an important strategic location, which has historically been under the control of Akkadians and Sumerians, followed by the Achaemenid Empire.  Later it was conquered by Alexander, too.

The Mesopotamian economy was based on agriculture that heavily relied on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers that bordered it. The political system in Mesopotamia was based on decentralization.

Mesopotamia was a collection of loosely connected self-governing states that functioned democratically. However, it later converted into a monarchy.

Mesopotamians practiced polytheism, but due to the decentralized nature of their polity and society, different variants emerged in the constituent subunits. Besides, the condition of women was not as appreciable.

They were not given any property rights. It is the site of developments in the Neolithic Revolution, as well as breakthroughs in agriculture, mathematics, and astronomy.

It is also famous for its architectural marvels like ziggurats and architectural styles of arches, columns, and roofed buildings. Mesopotamians also developed a script called cuneiform.

Main Differences Between Egypt and Mesopotamia

  1. Egypt and Mesopotamia differ in their geographical location. Egypt is a subtropical country that borders Asia and Africa and is located on the Nile riverside. Mesopotamia was located in the Fertile Crescent between Euphrates and Tigris rivers.
  2. The political system in Egypt was a centralized one, under a Pharaoh. Politics in Mesopotamia was based on decentralization, comprising several units.
  3. Egyptian architecture is famous for its pyramids, while Mesopotamian architecture is famous for its ziggurat.
  4. Egyptians used a script with a system of pictures called hieroglyphics, whereas Mesopotamians developed cuneiform script.
  5. The condition of women was better in Egypt than in Mesopotamia, as women were granted property rights after the death of their husbands in the former, but not in the latter.
  6. Both Egyptians and Mesopotamians practiced polytheism, i.e. worshipping multiple deities; but religion was organized in Egypt, while regional variants developed in Mesopotamia.
Difference Between Egypt and Mesopotamia

Conclusion

When studying the history of modern civilizations, one comes across a variety of ancient civilizations, which developed across the same time and hence have similar features.

However, each civilization is distinct and has certain special features.

Egypt and Mesopotamia are two such civilizations that developed across the same time i.e. around the 6th century BCE and were agricultural economies relying on rivers.

Nevertheless, both are distinguished by their geographical location, political organization, and cultural developments.

References

  1. https://search.proquest.com/openview/1cec85ee1bd8e1526826e7a36a43a28a/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=40991
  2. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/371676
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