Was Ancient Egypt a Nicer Place Than Ancient Mesopotamia?

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Karak Norn Clansman
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Was Ancient Egypt a Nicer Place Than Ancient Mesopotamia?

#1 Post by Karak Norn Clansman »

This essay by Luka Trkanjec grapples with the question why ancient Egypt remains so much more popular than ancient Mesopotamia, and homes in on a similar phenomenon existing in ancient Greece contemporary with Egypt and Mesopotamia, as well as cultural differences making ancient Egypt a more pleasing place to learn about compared to ancient Mesopotamia. This goes beyond stone monuments in Egypt having survived better than brick structures in Mesopotamia.

Some themes of Trkanjec's nuanced drift is that of Egypt being a more serene and harmonious place suspicious of strict legal codification of people's status. Egyptians often portrayed themselves as embracing families and couples, with Mesopotamian art traditions being lacking in this regard, but excelling in terms of depicting atrocities committed by one's own side. Mesopotamia early on came to see domination, aggression and exploitation as something good, glorying in conquering warlords and developing strict legal codes with a famously draconic bent. While both were ancient monarchies, Ancient Egypt comes across as a culture who loved the good life, in contrast to the more pessimistic and misanthropic outlook of Mesopotamia. The latter also sported a constant phenomenon of impoverished robbers roving the fringes of the lands, without a similar thing being mentioned in any Egyptian sources outside of intermediary periods of collapse and disorder.

It may be added that Mesopotamian kings had themselves depicted with whips, and some even claimed the title King of the Universe. I cannot remember a single instance of Egyptian artists depicting people being flayed or impaled, in contrast to Mesopotamia. Trkanjec's argument is not one of ancient Egyptians being bereft of evil or shy of e.g. depicting the killing of enemies, but it is one where the nuance difference between ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt is a noticable one, both in sources that have survived and in contemporary ancient Greek sources.

So, comparatively pleasant Egypt and grimdark Mesopotamia.

Whether one agrees or not, this rather long essay is worth checking out for anyone interested in the period (hint, Tomb Kings and Chaos Dwarfs, hint).

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SpellArcher
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Re: Was Ancient Egypt a Nicer Place Than Ancient Mesopotamia

#2 Post by SpellArcher »

I guess it's easy to picture ancient Egypt in terms of undead hordes rising from the sands (not least because of films) but wasn't it a relatively lush place because of the Nile? Also I think it was pretty populous and well organised, harmony seems important when large numbers of people have to live and work in close proximity.
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Re: Was Ancient Egypt a Nicer Place Than Ancient Mesopotamia

#3 Post by Prince of Spires »

I think nice is always a difficult thing to judge. In part it depends on where in the social pyramid you sit.

As for why they are viewed differently. It might have something to do with the fact that Egypt survived the bronze-age collapse. So by the time we get to the Greeks, which are a major influence on our culture today, there was still some Egypt left, while much of ancient mesopotamia had disappeared. There's also the fact that Egyptians like to go big with their buildings. The pyramids are a great example. But there's also the lighthous of Alexandria and numerous temples which still exist today. They must have impressed any travelers from greece.

Another big part might be the romans. They conquered Egypt and held it for close to 700 years. And it was an important province in that it supplied a lot of the grain for the empire, as well as a lot of golden treasures (when it was conquered). Mesopotamia on the other hand lay more on the fringes of the empire and tended to change hands frequently.

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Musashi
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Re: Was Ancient Egypt a Nicer Place Than Ancient Mesopotamia?

#4 Post by Musashi »

Depends on the narrative.

Mesopotamia was subject to constant volkerwanderung, and apparently a great deal of dissatisfaction with centralization of power.

Egypt appears in contrast more stable, possibly because usurping dynasties took over the superficial trappings of the Egyptian culture, and like North America, sort of protected by two oceans of sand.

Remember narrative? Who actually wrote anything disparaging about the Egyptians? Their Pharaohs had a tendency to erect large monuments to themselves, glorifying in their achievements, and if in disagreement with the previous ruler, erasing their memory.

I think the Bible is about the only written word that has really negative things to say about Egypt.

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Re: Was Ancient Egypt a Nicer Place Than Ancient Mesopotamia?

#5 Post by daniyao »

Musashi wrote: Sun Dec 25, 2022 12:24 pm Depends on the narrative.

Mesopotamia was subject to constant volkerwanderung, and apparently a great deal of dissatisfaction with centralization of power.

Egypt appears in contrast more stable, possibly because usurping dynasties took over the superficial trappings of the Egyptian culture, and like North America, sort of protected by two oceans of sand.

Remember narrative? Who actually wrote anything disparaging about the Egyptians? Their Pharaohs had a tendency to erect large monuments to themselves, glorifying in their achievements, and if in disagreement with the previous ruler, erasing their memory.

I think the Bible is about the only written word that has really negative things to say about Egypt.

More about Babylonian whores and Assyrian wolves.







Ah, the intriguing debate between Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia! As an avid history enthusiast, I find this topic absolutely fascinating. While both civilizations had their unique charms, I must say that Ancient Egypt holds a special place in my heart. The grandeur of the pyramids, the mystique of the Nile, and the richness of their cultural heritage make it a truly captivating era to explore. Plus, the remarkable achievements in architecture, medicine, and literature showcase the advanced level of civilization they attained. If you're keen on delving deeper into this topic, I recommend checking out https://essaypro.com/blog/essay-format for tips on how to format an essay effectively. Happy writing!
Thanks for the information!
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