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Free «Ancient Egypt and Greece» Essay Sample

Ancient Egypt was a Northeastern African civilization that occupies the plains of River Nile. According to historical records, Egypt was a series of Kingdoms that were separated by intermediate periods of instability. Basically, the ancient Egyptian civilization was concentrated on much of the eastern portion of present day Egypt. The civilization depended on Nile River for its livelihood. River Nile originates in East African highlands and flows towards the Mediterranean Sea through Sudan and Egypt (Grimal, 1992). At its mouth, the river forms a delta that is rich for agricultural practices. This richness instigated the foundation of the city of Cairo at its present location. During the ancient times, the East African region experienced seasonal rainfall pattern. This made Nile to overflow on yearly basis, a situation which made Egyptians to abandon their farmlands temporarily. On receding, the Nile used to leave rich grounds along the floodplains, and this facilitated the development of a successful agricultural based economy along the river banks.

In addition to agricultural activities, River Nile facilitated movement of people and goods. The civilization considered the river to be an important highway, and a reliable source of water for domestic use. Historical records indicate that the inhabitants of ancient Egypt considered Nile River as an important barrier against attacks from the desert plains (Grimal, 1992). Agricultural practices along the Nile River facilitated the establishment of a sophisticated society that endured for thousands of years.

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Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece was concentrated in the mountainous region between the Balkan and the Italian Peninsulas. Additionally, it incorporated a number of rugged islands along the northern portion of the Mediterranean region. The most important settlements in Greece were those along the southern portion of the Balkan Peninsula (Buckley, 1996). Greece was known for its farming activities. Most historians argue that the Greeks deforested several localities for agricultural practices. An example of such a location is the Pindus Mountains, a range that runs down the Balkan Peninsula. A couple of Greek cities were founded as agricultural centers. Among these cities are Athens, Syracuse, and Corinth (Buckley, 1996). The strength of these cities depended on the size of the farm lands they possessed. Although Greece regarded agriculture as an important activity, its farming practices were surpassed by those of Egypt. This is because unlike Egypt, Greece engaged in other activities such as exploration and long distant trade.

Leadership

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Ancient Egypt

Egypt was ruled by the Pharaohs. The Pharaohs were highly regarded and revered like gods. Upon their death, Egyptians built elaborate tombs and statutes as a show of honor. Ancient Egyptians regarded Pharaohs as gods sent from heaven to oversee the continuation of the civilization and the well being of all individuals. Pharaohs sought advice from a selection of elites. The elites acted as intercessors for the people, and this was a perfect arrangement as the Pharaohs obeyed them. Pharaohs were at liberty to wage wars, command the building of shrines and tombs, and create laws for controlling the economy and for obtaining slaves. The first man to assume the title of Pharaoh was Marmer aka Menes, the leader who united the lower and upper Egypt. Menes is remembered for establishing a theocracy and for holding the civilization together for 62 years.

Ancient Greece

Rulers of Greece were cruel and oppressive. Most of them were drawn from the military, and as such, warfare between Greece and other civilizations was commonplace. Among the most remembered of the Greek leaders is Hector, the prince of Troy who believed that avoiding war would brand an individual a coward. The leaders were, therefore, self centered, and they would do anything to safeguard their pride. The scenario changed after the introduction of democracy facilitated the separation of civic and military realms. Democratic practices gave everyone, including commoners, a chance to assume leadership position. The inhabitants’ pride in military prowess began to be overtaken by that resulting from education. Unlike with the Egyptian civilization, leaders were never regarded as gods.

 
 
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Religious Beliefs

Egyptians were polytheists. They believed that various gods oversaw and controlled different forces of nature in accordance with their powers. For instance, Ra was considered as the god that controlled sunshine, while Isis was responsible for healing. Religious beliefs influenced the manner in which the people regarded their leaders. In contrast, most Greeks were pagans. Most of them held the concepts and ideas of Druidism among other forms of early paganism. Later, sacrificing became common, and many people believed that good fortune were as a result of pleasing and worshiping god (Aird, 2004). The Greek religion was, therefore, ritual based, and unlike the Egyptians, the Greeks’ sets of beliefs did not incorporate polytheism. However, there were no claims of universality of god.

Trade

Cargo shipping was common practice in ancient Greece. Proficiency in the transportation of goods made Greece prosperous. With the increase in cargo, the sizes of ships continued to increase. This increase facilitated trading with other Mediterranean civilizations such as Egypt and Lydia. To safeguard the trade, authorities in Greece passed laws that facilitated local and international merchandising. This improved the Greek commerce and economy a great deal, a situation that improved the living standards of the inhabitants. Ancient Egyptians were known for exporting and importing goods. For instance, they exported pottery, papyrus, robes, and dried fish. They imported goods such as wood, copper, among other valuables from Palestine and Syria (Kitchen, 1983). However, as stated earlier, Egyptians concentrated much of their energy in farming, and as such, the Greeks valued trade more than the Egyptians did.

Warfare and Expansion

By and large, ancient Egyptians were among the most peaceful people. They did not see the need to formulate a proper army as invasions were rare. On the other hand, Pharaohs had little appetite for expansion. In most instances, the soldiers were engaged in settling incidences of civil unrest. It is believed that Egyptians avoided war due to their concern that they may not be in a position to offer their fallen soldiers a decent burial. However, Egyptians had to militarize due to the fear of the surrounding civilizations (Kitchen, 1983). In contrast, Greeks were brilliant warriors. Under Alexander the Great, Greece and Macedonia perfected the art of siege warfare through the creation of a skilled infantry army. Prior the death of Alexander, Greeks and Macedonians had concurred much of the known world (Aird, 2004).

   

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