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C O U R S E 
Western Civilization: Ancient and Medieval Europe
Ian Moulton, Arizona State University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Differences between Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt
Notes taken on March 20, 2016 by Edward Tanguay
kingship and law in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt
environment, climate, and geography affect societal order
things that humans can't change
society order is usually seen as the law
but when no laws in place, it's
the relationship between the ruler and the ruled
the relationship of the ruled in terms of each other
societies and leaders understand order differently
sources of social order and why it was forced the way it was
law codes
religious beliefs
civilizations in Mesopotamia and Egypt
Egypt civilization arrives after the Sumer civilization in Mesopotamia
3500 BC
likely some contact between them
but Egypt developed essentially as a distinct civilization of its own
in both places, social order changed as the value of the land increased
the kind of kingship depended on location of civilization
if people were passing through who might pose a threat
if they were being left alone
if others could attack without notice
volatile rivers
changing weather
people who move across this landscape
so for leaderships and religion
theme of rivalry
who is going to contend
how might one win
the land of warring sky gods
gods that can rival the king
gods represented in things like lightening, thunder and dust storms
generally threatened people as a whole but could also threaten a king
a king is supposed to lead
if regular warfare, these skills are important
cities almost always had walls
a sign that there was always some threat afoot
growing population in cities
suggests increased social problems
the god-king must be a warrior and dominate
people have recourse
don't have a vote
but can ask gods for help
king is expected not to interfere with the established order, should respect gods
Epic of Gilgamesh
tells the story that the king is not supposed to abuse power and what the gods do when he does
also a relationship between religion and leadership
but a greater theme of balance
the "land of divine harmony"
the goddess Ma'at was in charge of balancing conflicting cosmic forces
Egypt was different than Mesopotamia
a more of less consistent environment with regular flooding of the Nile
consistent agricultural production as well as herding
had fewer invaders given their geography
desert and sea around them
fewer people were going to be wandering through or have access to their resources
here God is truth, law, and justice, and if the Pharaoh doesn't keep this balance, then the are may be subject to problems
the Nile might become irregular
an invasion might occur
strength and production might decrease
comparing Mesopotamia and Egypt
different geographies
different threats
different understandings therefore of order
unlike the Code of Hammurabi and other Mesopotamian law codes, there isn't a law code found in Egypt
although in Egypt a well ordered society was an absolute priority
there is a theme of balance in Egypt vs. the conflict and required dominance seen in Mesopotamia
a god-king
an implied recourse that the people should have to their gods if the king doesn't act correctly
land is in both cases is at the resources