The Values Of Mesopotamia And Essay, Research Paper
The Values of Mesopotamia and Egypt
Mesopotamia and Egypt both were civilizations that came into existence near rivers. These rivers caused floods and destruction, yet they deposited fertile soil that allowed these early civilizations to grow crops and survive without traveling great distances to gather food. These states of people had evolved enough to have values and needs beyond that of the basic needs such as food, water, and shelter. These higher values are pretty basic. People wanted to find a meaning in life, to cope with death and the afterlife, and to have justice.
Mesopotamians were the first said to have a government, codes of laws, and ethical systems. When these people had unanswered questions, they created myths to satisfy those questions. … myths are vehicles through which prescientific societies explain the workings of the universe and humanity s place within it (Human Record, p. 6). One of Mesopotamia s greatest works of literature was The Epic of Gilgamesh. This story of a heroic king explains how Gilgamesh is a mortal man searching for immortality. During this epic, there is a section that is similar to the Biblical story of Noah, where the lands flood killing everything except one man who built a boat and put his family and animals on the boat. Also it has a moral at the end stating that Gilgamesh shouldn t despair because he was a great king and will be remembered, so his death wasn t in vain.
Not only did the questions of the Mesopotamians create epic poems and myths, they created codes of laws. Even though the Code of Hammurabi isn t the first collection of laws, it certainly is the most famous. Hammurabi s code is actually a collection of decisions… that the king made in response to specific cases and perceived injustices (Human Record, p. 13). These laws covered many areas such as justice, criminal, property, marriage and family, and personal injury. Also these laws set up social classes and separate fines for social classes. These codes were written on a stone pillar at least seven feet tall and six feet in circumference. Hammurabi wanted to seek justice through law.
Like the people of Mesopotamia, Egyptians also believed in myths. However, Egyptians had many cultural differences than Mesopotamians. Egyptians, for instance, believed that pharaohs, royal family, priests and royal slaves were rewarded immortality. Also another myth is that the pharaohs unified the lands of Egypt and balanced all godly forces. Unlike the people of Mesopotamia, Egyptians didn t have written codes of laws. The pharaohs and priests dealt with the law. Egyptian values were quite different than those of the Mesopotamian s. Death rituals is the main thing that separates Egyptians and Mesopotamians. The Old Kingdom of Egypt focused on the pharaohs detailed funeral ceremony. Egyptians carved magical incantations on the walls of the royal burial chambers as a means of assuring the king s safe journey into eternal life (Human Record, p. 18). The Middle Kingdom was a little more realistic and thought anyone could be immortal if they met certain criteria. A new kind of magical inscriptions were written on wooden coffins. These were often a two-part speech, the first spoken by a god, the second by the person in the coffin. The New Kingdom created a new collection of coffin inscriptions. What separated the New Kingdom collection from the others was the fairly standardized documents.
Egyptians had scribes that wrote down the history, everyday life, and important dates and names of pharaohs. Scribes were quite arrogant and thought of all other employment as inferior to theirs. The scribe, he alone, records the output of all of them. Take note of it! (Human Record, p. 23). Many people were prejudice toward the scribes lifestyle. Scribes were noted as early as the beginning of the Middle Kingdom and go into the late New Kingdom.
There are obvious differences between Egypt and Mesopotamia; however, the values are the same. Each civilization needed myths as a way to explain things that were unexplainable. Also each civilization looked for immortality and afterlife. Finally, both had set up laws and social classes, written or unwritten. Without the rivers to provide the basic needs of food, water, and shelter, these civilizations could have never evolved or had higher values.