Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamian are two major ancient civilizations which left rich prophesy. We may get an idea about this civilization from different written sources which reflect social and political order, as well as religious beliefs of these two civilizations.
Mesopotamian civilization emerged on the fertile land between the Tigris and Euphrates and originally was based on the agriculture. Development of different working tools resulted it rapid technological and economical development. Gradually small villages grew into almost independent city-states which had a high level of economical and cultural development. The entire history of the Mesopotamian civilization may be traced in the texts, which belong to this period.
Mesopotamian texts make combination of historical events and their various interpretations. The Epic of Atrahasis presents detailed story of the Great Flood. Some specialists believe that this epic describes real events that took place in reality. The story of the Great Flood is mentioned in many ancient sources including the Bible. The Epic of Atrahasis gives not only the description of the flood but also explains its possible reasons (Brophy, 2005). It illustrates the belief in the powerful gods who decided to kill people who did not obey them.
The Epic of Gilgamesh also gives an account of the Great Flood. From this literary source we may get basic ideas about the life of ancient people of Mesopotamia. This epic gives the readers information about political system and social life of the Sumerian people. The epic consists of separated episodes which tell separates stories about he adventures of the main character. The Epic of Gilgamesh presents the system of beliefs peculiar to the time it was written. It also reflects the system of social and gender relations in the Sumerian society. Men and women had defined social roles and they usually strictly followed them. Mesopotamian society was manly a patriarchal society, but still women had certain rights. Most men and women were literal. They learned complicated Sumerian language and could write and read.
Religion played an extremely important role in Mesopotamia. People believed that state laws and social regulations were given to people by gods. Lamentation over the Destruction of Sumer and Urim is a long poem which centers on political life. It describes the destruction of different cities. Since all ancients texts can not be separated from religious beliefs this text also reflects the Sumerian system of beliefs. Lamentation over the Destruction of Sumer and Urim is based on the idea that the destruction of the cities takes place according to the will of Gods (Brophy, 2005).
Ancient people believed that cities emerged and vanished only with the help of the Divine power. This idea makes the central theme in Lamentation over the Destruction of Sumer and Urim.
The Code of Hannurabi is the most famous set of Mesopotamian state laws. Mesopotamian people also believed that the choice of rulers and kings was also marked by the decisions of gods. Originally the ruler had the role of protector of all people. He had to transmit the divine rule and to present the will of gods on the earth.
The Emergence of Egyptian civilizations is also conditioned by geographical reasons. This civilization emerged along the banks of the Nile. In those ancient times people were depended on natural conditions to great extend. Nature gave them harvest and helped them to survive. Great belief in nature powers and in different Gods make a peculiar feature of all ancient civilizations including Ancient Egypt. Writings and sets of laws reflects the history and development of the Ancient Egyptian civilization.
The Story of Sinuhe is one of the most famous books of the Ancient Egyptian literature. This work was composed shortly after the death of Pharaoh Amenemhat I. The Story of Sinuhe gives and account of historical events and illustrates social and political order of the country (Brophy, 2005). This work does not avoid religious themes. On the contrary, the Story of Sinuhe is full of religious themes and symbols, which fully reflects the spirit of the time when it was written.
The Book of the Dead gives even more information about the religious systems and religious rituals of ancient Egypt.
The book presents the set of rituals, hymns and directions which are aimed to help dying people to make their pass to afterlife. This writing presents important information because it reflects basic beliefs and religious ideas of the Ancient Egypt (Brophy, 2005). From this book we see that belief in afterlife and different mystic creatures made an important part of everyday life in Ancient Egypt. People believed in different gods and used rites to get mercy and pardon from them.
This idea of afterlife is proved by another famous Egyptian text. Harper’s Songs is a set of funeral songs which were used during the funeral ceremony. These songs also reflect ideas about afterlife. Some songs contains reflections or even doubts in the existence of the life after death.