Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian Cultures

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Around the time 4,000-1,000 BC there were two major western civilizations. Those civilizations were the Ancient Egyptians and the Mesopotamians. Many similarities exist between the civilizations of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, as well as many differences. Both Egypt and Mesopotamia were polytheistic, that is, they believed their worlds were ruled by more than one god. Both cultures also believed that they themselves were created for the purpose of serving their gods. Their similarities include the existence of educational systems and codes of law. Their differences are found partly in those similarities, as well as their medical practices and their interpretations of the great floods. There are many patterns that are common of the civilizations of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, which shows that there were some patterns of development that might be common to early civilizations, but they probably didn’t have very much contact with each other.

Both of the civilizations believed in education. The people of Sumer were expected to do what was asked of them and to behave properly while in school. If the pupils were late for school or failed to complete their assignments, they would be beaten with a stick, or caned. One story about a Sumerian boy, who was not doing well in school, tells of the kinds of small things children would be punished for, such as poor penmanship. This story shows us how common this sort of discipline was “Who was in charge of drawing said ‘Why when I was not here did you stand up?’ caned me. My teacher said ‘Your hand is not good,’ caned me.” (A Sumerian Schoolboy, SPV 15). It seams that if they misbehaved at all during school they would be punished by being by a cane.

The school children of Egypt were advised by their fathers to be men of pride and to listen to their people. The advice that a father gave to his son was very important, telling that son how to behave to make both himself and his family proud. “Take counsel with the ignorant, as well as the wise” (A Father’s Advice, SPV 1) advises that wisdom may be found from the lips of all people; not only from the scholars or artisans, but from the slaves and common folk as well.

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The Ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians had different theories as to how they came about and why they were created. Both civilizations believed that the gods created them. The Mesopotamians believed that the mightier gods forced the lesser gods into slavery, and that the Mesopotamian people were created to take over for those lesser gods when they revolted. “When the gods, like man, bore the work, carried the labor-basket�the labor-basket of the great gods�the work was heavy, much was the distress...” (A Creation Myth “Let Man Carry the Labor-Basket of the Gods, SPV 1) is saying that the lesser gods had to do the hard labor before man was created. “While Nintu is present, let the birth-goddess create the offspring, let man bear the labor-basket of the gods” was what Enlil said after he agreed to create humans to do the physical labor. “I have removed your heavy labor, have placed your labor-basket on man,” is what he said to the gods after humans were created. (A Creation Myth “Let Man Carry the Labor-Basket of the Gods, SPV 1).

The Egyptian creation theory is different from that of the Mesopotamians. The Egyptians thought that Khepri created all the humans and created the other gods as well. It was believed the Kherpi created the lesser gods from his spit and humans from his semen. “I planned in my own heart, and there came into being a multitude of forms of beings, the forms of children and the forms of their children. I was the one who copulated with my fist, I masturbated with my hand. Then I spewed with my own mouth I spat out what was Shu, and I sputtered out what was Tefnut.” (The Book of Knowing the Creations, HD #5

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