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Egypt and Mesopotamia: A look at two civilizations Essay

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Egypt The Egyptian civilization first emerged from the Nile region about 5,000 years ago (Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2001). The Egyptians ruled this part of the world close to three millenia, from 3300 B. C to about 30 B. C. (Encarta, 2008), thus gaining the distinction of being the longest civilization the world has ever known (Encarta, 2008). How was life in the Egyptian civilization? What were the driving forces in the life of this ancient culture? The Egyptians centered their life around the Nile River (The British Museum).

When the Nile overflowed its banks, a yearly occurrence in the land (Brtish Museum), the waters bought about by the flooding of the River (British Museum), one of the reasons that the Egyptians began to evolve as one of civilization’s greatest empires (Central Intelligence Agency, 2008). The periodic overflow of the River, coupled with the relative isolation that its geography afforded, gave it the stimulus that made it to one of the most powerful empires the world has seen (CIA, 2008).

Bounded by the Nile River at Aswan, swaths of deserts east and west of the Valley and the Meditterenean coast on the northern parts, its location gave it plenty of cover from invaders (Anita Stratos, 2003). The flooding of the Nile also separated the Egytian nation, in terms of farming and domicile areas (St. Petersburg Times, 1999). The lands that were enriched by the Nile were called “Black Lands”, for agricultural purposes (British Museum), while lands for settlement were called “Red Lands” (British Museum). The Egyptians placed a high value on family life (St.

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Petersburg, 1999). They believed that their having children was a sign of blessing upon them (St. Petersburg, 1999). But though they were mainly a class of farmers, scribes and field workers, they also developed a very efficient war machine (Stratos, 2003). The Egyptian Army, at first, was a confluence of old infantrymen and young raw soldiers, mostly as palace guards and ship escorts, not as professional soldiers (Stratos, 2003). But only with the invasion of the Hyksos in the 15th Dynasty (Stratos, 2003), did Egypt began efforts for a modern army (Stratos, 2003).

The Old Kingdom, equipped thair armies with a variety of weaponry, including bow and arrows, maces, shields, and spears (Kibbutz Reshafim). This was followed by the introduction of the arrow quiver, the battle axe and the war chariots (Reshafim). Mesopotamia The Mesopotamian civilization was founded earlier than Egypt, about 5,000 years B. C. (Keri Steitz and Holly Quaratella). Mesopotamia derives its name from two Greek words, mesos meaning middle and potamos, middle (Steitz and Quaratella).

The area borders modern day Iraq, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, all of northern Syria and the southern part of Turkey (Steitz and Quaratella). Mesopotamia was divided into two distict regions, with its own geographical differences (The British Museum). Northern Mesopotamia , hilly and consisted mainly of plains, was rich in timber and agricultural lands (British Museum). Settlers in this part of the empire were farmers, and utilized the stones and minerals found in the nearby mountains (British Museum). Southern Mesopotamia, on the other hand, mainly was marsh lands and barren plains (British Museum).

This is where most of the cities grew, rising beside the rivers as a means of transport and communications (British Museum). As did the Egyptians, the Mesopotamians utilized the natural terrain of the land, buiding canals and walled cities (Encarta, 2008). Armies from Assyria, a province of Mesopotamia, armed with iron weapons, also employed several new developments in warfare, including siege towers, slings and an increased chariot team, composed of three charioteers (Za Khan, 2008). The Egyptian cahriots were more lethal, attached with scythes on the wheel axles to slice through infantry men (Za Khan, 2008).

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