Mesopotamia and Egypt are two ancient civilisations in which religion was an inte-gral part. Mesopotamia referred to to the areas along the Tigris and Euphrates riv-ers. In the modern world, it corresponds to areas such as Kuwait, Iraq, and some parts of Turkey and Iran. Mesopotamia is also known as the Sumerian region. An-cient Egypt on its part was a civilisation in the Mediterranean region, specifically in Northeastern Africa.
Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt both had a system of government known as theoc-racy. This type of government involved a mixture of politics and spiritual elements. Deities were the utmost religious and civic leaders in such a system and their will was implemented by kings or priests.
In Mesopotamia, each city state had a patron god or goddess. There were political leaders known as Ensi and priests who interpreted the desires and wishes of the dei-ties. In Egypt, the entire state was led by a pharaoh. Pharaoh was considered as a living god and a link between humanity and the other gods.
In spite of the similarities that Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt had such as poly-theism and divine power of kings, there were still a number of differences between the two religions. Here are some key differences between them.
People’s perception of the deities
In Mesopotamia, gods and goddesses were percieved as being rather chaotic. They were deemed capable of causing catastrophes and disasters when angered by the people. People therefore strived to do good so as to avoid evoking the wrath of the deities.
Unlike in Mesopotamia where the deities were percieved as being chaotic, the gods were deemed as being kind to humanity in Egypt. The people of Egypt believed that the gods had made Egypt as a sort of refuge in a world filled with disasters here and there.
Status held by leaders
In Mesopotamia, kings were considered as interpreters of divine laws who were trusted with governing the people. In Egypt however, leaders were considered as gods in themselves. Pharaoh was percieved as a god by the Egyptian people and was believed to wield power over things like fertility of the land and the nation’s prosperity.
In Mesopotamia, different deities were in charge of different cities or regions while this was never the case in Egypt. Egypt had gods who were in charge of the entire Egyptian nation.
Hierarchy of deities
In Mesopotamia, deities were being ranked according to their power and greatness. Four gods were held in higher esteem than the other gods. These four included the gods of heaven, earth, air, and water. It was believed that all the other gods descend-ed from these four gods and for this reason, the other gods were considered as lesser gods.
Egypt on its part didn’t have the hierarchical division of deities. Each god or god-dess was considered as important and standing for a particular thing.
Belief in afterlife
The people of Mesopotamia did not believe much about the existence of life after death. There is no historical evidence to show that the Sumerians believed in after-life.
In Egypt however, people believed very much in life after death. The Egyptian pyr-amids where pharaohs were buried attest to just how much the people of Egypt be-lieved in an afterlife. The pyramids were built with the best of material and in the best design possible, the pharaohs wanted a comfortable life after death. The pyra-mids were built in magnificent styles so as to befit the special status held by the pharaohs. Sometimes, gemstones such as emerald would be used in building the pyramids.