The history of Egypt and the Fertile Crescent

Mesopotamia’s history during the 1st 2nd and 3rd Millenniums BC

Mesopotamia has been referred to as the cradle for civilization and has been home most of the important ancient civilizations. The first millennium BC in Mesopotamia was epitomized by imperial dominance. There was dominance by the Neo Assyrian kingdom in the first half of this particular millennium.

The rise and fall of the Neo- Babylonian Empire led by Nebuchadnezzar characterizes the latter half of this millennium. This was later on followed by the conquest from the East by Cyrus the Great who led the Persians. Hellenism was also an important element that characterized Mesopotamian history.

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This was followed by the downfall of Alexander the Great around 330BC. It is also important to note that the Minoan period took place in the 2nd millennium BC which was between 1900-1300 BC. The legal code was also wrote in this era by Hammurabi and went ahead to conquer Mesopotamia. In the 3rd Millennium BC, there was the building of the great pyramids. Some of the most important pyramids were those of Cheops of Giza (Craig, 2008, p.225)

Egypt’s history during the new, old and middle kingdoms

It was around 6000 BC when a community of hunter – gathers started settling along the Nile River as they practiced farming. Over time, this community grew and came to be known as the Egyptian Dynasty. Right after Egypt’s unification, the Manetho’s 4th Dynasty began to develop. It was at this particular time that the Egyptian old kingdom was established.

The first Egyptian dynasty in this period of time enjoyed the advantages of writing which later on led to the development of the calendar. More so, around 2600BC there was the building of the first pyramid which was known as the Zoser’s monument built at Saqqara (Craig, 2008, p. 65).

The middle kingdom period ranged between the 11th and 12th dynasties. This period in time is important because there was a lot of effort by the Egyptian dynasties as they tried to colonize Nubia. Its strategic importance to Egypt is that it was meant to be the Egypt’s trade center in luxurious items.

Given that, it was also rich in Gold, Ivory as well as ebony among other items. Due to high demand for manufactured goods and weapons, the Nubians went ahead and established a market place at the second cataract. This place was used by the Egyptians to purchase the very much needed slaves in exchange for the manufactured products.

The new kingdom in Egypt was roughly the last part of the second millennium. That is between (1550-1060). The eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth Dynasties composed this new kingdom after the Hyksos were expelled and the country got reunified again by Ahmose. The powers and wealth of the kings in the new kingdom seemed to have been elevated.

There was massive construction of buildings, religious centers and mortuary temples all over Thebes. A good number of Egyptian kings led campaigns in areas where they wanted to gain control for instance Palestine.

Religion in the history of Mesopotamia and Egypt

Religion was an integral part of both Mesopotamia and Egypt. In Early Mesopotamia, the natural happenings were normally attributed to the actions of divine of divine forces which led them to having many gods and goddesses.

However, they zeroed down on four creator gods. Egyptians on the other hand relied on religion to guide every aspect of their lives. Egyptians practiced pure polytheism and did not however concentrate on a few specific gods. They apparently had over two thousand gods and goddesses. There were those that were worshiped all over the country such as Amun.

The Egyptian religion was rather optimistic. This is because it upheld that there would be a rather positive afterlife no matter what one goes through in their earthly lives. Osiris, the most famous god known as the one who gives the law was also considered the guardian for the dead in the other world. On the other hand, Mesopotamian religion was rather dreary and gloomy.

The ancient prayers illustrated the need for an establishment of relationships with the gods as well as the goddesses. This is basically because it was assumed that the gods and goddesses viewed humans with not only suspicion. Hence, they would often send catastrophes to act as a reminder to every individual in society of their humanity (Rivstvet, 2006,p.97).

Both religions however have one thing in common. They are associated with nature as well as the environment. Most of the gods and goddesses names were for instance derived from nature. More so, most of the natural events were what gave birth to some gods. For example when there are good rains which lead to a good harvest, the Egyptians in this situation found would give such an event a name. Therefore, whenever they would need a good harvest they would call on the rain god.

The Hebrew historical events in the lush crescent

The Hebrews began their journey in Mesopotamia in the 1900s BC travelling through eventually stopping in Egypt in 1500BC. The make up of the Hebrew society consisted of several tribes. During the time with which they were travelling, one of the tribes began considering themselves the chosen ones.

Hence they went ahead to use the title, “soldiers of God” It is sad to note that the Egyptian pharaohs went ahead to enslave them until around 1250BC when Moses their chosen leader led them into freedom. By the 10th century, the Israelite Kingdom was well established and was economically prosperous.

The influence of river valley cultures to their history

The ancient Hebrew culture was to some extent suppressed. This was due to the Egyptian imperialism hence many Hebrew generations lived under slavery. Given the situation they could not practice most of their values and beliefs and those who dared to were severely punished.

However around 800BC a new culture arose that was more powerful than the Egyptian culture. This was the Greek culture. After the liberation of the Hebrews from slavery the Hebrew and Greek culture were the dominant ones. The dominance of these two cultures gave birth to some sort of conflict between the two as they sort for supremacy.

However the Greek were able to win the battle hence the suppression of the Hebrew culture. In spite of all this the unity amongst the Hebrews strengthened and the Hebrew culture was able to influence other cultures such as the European and the Roman (The British Museum, 2011).

In short, this paper explains the undertakings of the ancient civilizations. It explains how important contemporary practices such as writing and more so arithmetic’s came into play. The different cultures involved have also been discussed to facilitate better understanding.

References

Craig, A., et al. (2009). Heritage of world Civilizations (8th Ed.). Prentice Hall: New York

Rivstvet,L. (2006). Legal and archeological territory of the second millennium BC in Northern Mesopotamia. Retrieved on July 24 from
http://leilan.yale.edu/pubs/files/Ristvet_2008_Antiquity.pdf

The British Museum. (2011). Ancient Egypt: the new kingdom. [Online]. Retrieved on July 24 from
http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/article_index/a/ancient_egypt_the_new_kingdom.aspx