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Ancient Egypt’s Comparison with Mesopotamia

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Keywords: mesopotamia irrigation system

Ancient Egypt’s farming system compared with Mesopotamia

Ancient Egyptians had an easier life compared to the other ancient civilizations because of their reliable agriculture system. Geography played a big role, especially in farming. Due to geography, Mesopotamia and Egypt had different farming methods, weathers, environment, and flooding seasons. In fact, Egypt’s great farming system led them to have better conditions to farm than Mesopotamia because of flooding, the rivers and irrigation and the farming tools that they used. Economy, crops, flooding, and the weather varied between Mesopotamia and Egypt. Geography, flooding seasons, different farming tools, and methods led Egypt to have a better agriculture system than Egypt.

The difference between geographies, which includes the environment, was the main factor that the farming was different in Mesopotamians and Egyptians. Flooding influenced farming in Mesopotamia and Egypt. However, flooding helped Egypt but it influenced badly in Mesopotamia. Egypt is settled on the world’s longest river, the Nile, which flows from south to north because of the geography of land. Unlike Mesopotamia, Egypt had a predictable flooding seasons. Farmers, knowing when to expect floods, were able to schedule growing seasons around when crops needed water. Not only did flooding help with good timing with farming, but it also provided rich soil from the flooding. The Nile River floods between June and October (Louis, and Jennifer). After floods, there would be a fertile land along the river which Egyptians used to plant and grow things such as fruits and vegetables (Gill, 29). Flood played a big role in farming and growing crops in Egypt.

On the contrary, growing crops were more difficult for Mesopotamians because of the difference in geography. Mesopotamia had limited natural resources because of the unpredictable floods (David, 117). Farmers had no prediction when it was going to flood, which gave the farmers hard times finding the right season to farm. Unlike Egyptians, Mesopotamians lived in the city-states which were based on farming and trade. The city-states were a group of small cities which needed unity with one the other. Also, they were isolated from one another geographically and so the independence of each city-state became important. Farming played a big role in city-states. However, Egypt did not have a good environment, especially the flood was the main problem. Floods destroyed villages and took many lives (David, 121). The floods sometimes caused rivers to change courses and due to this farmers had a lot of trouble with crops. Sudden floods forced Mesopotamians to create an organized agricultural system to help them with farming and growing crops. Mesopotamia was very dry, hot and had little rainfall. Farmers had hard time finding water for their crops. Farming was hard for Mesopotamians due to the hot weather and bad environment conditions (David, 122).

Flood was not the only cause of having different farming system, but also due to using different tools and farming methods. Using different tools in farming and farming in different environment such as soil and weathers led Mesopotamia and Egypt to harvest different crops. Egyptian grew a lot of crops due to good weather and soil. Egyptian farmers grew crops such as wheat, barley, vegetables, figs, melons, pomegranates and vines (Barrow). Also, they grew flax which was made into linen (Barrow). Out of all the crops that the Egyptian farmers harvested, the most important crop was grain because ancient Egyptians used grain to make bread, porridge and beer (Barrow). Moreover, grain was the first crop that they grew after inundation. Once the grain was harvested, they grew vegetables, such as onions, leeks, cabbages beans and lettuce (Barrow). Crops differed between Mesopotamia and Egypt because of the environment, but also due to the different tools that they used to farm. Ancient Egyptian had simple farming tools such as winnowing scoops, hoes, rakes, flint-bladed sickles and ploughs (Barrow). Farming methods, and tools also took a big role in Egypt to have a reliable farming system. Moreover, Egypt was geography isolated by deserts, mountains and seas which allowed their crops to grow well.

Mesopotamia had only few crops to grow due to the geography and flooding which influenced the Economy. Due to unpredictable floods, Mesopotamians did not know when to farm. For some farmers, when it was time to harvest, flooded unexpectedly and swept away all the crops. However, the farmers raised few crops which were grains, fruit, vegetables, and barn yard animals. One of the methods that the farmers used was by filling the containers with seeds. Cows would pull plow seed and the seeds would go into the ground (Louis, and Jennifer). Mesopotamian people invented the seeder plow, which enabled farmers to carry out the tasks of seeding and plowing at the same time. The plow created a long, narrow trench made in the ground as seed was dropped into a funnel (Gabriel). The Mesopotamians further enhanced the technology of the plow by learning how to use ox to power it (Gabriel). There were few farming methods, however, Mesopotamia did not have enough methods than Egypt (Louis, and Jennifer). Due to the lack of farming methods, the Mesopotamian farmers hand harvested most crops. Because of the unpredictable flood, and lack of farming tools and methods, Egypt had a better profit in crops and had developed farming system.

Along with the farming methods and tools, Mesopotamian and Egyptians were both influenced by geography (McIntosh, 56). Egypt, irrigation led to an increased food supply and helped water dry lands with streams, canals, or pipes. Due to irrigation, farmers could plan for the seasonal flooding. Nile River played a big role in farming because the river provided silt whenever there was a flood, so Egypt was ready for flood and they did not have to worry about the right time for farming. Also, after floods, there would be a fertile strip along the Nile River that was about 12 miles wide (Louis, and Jennifer). Moreover, this benefited the soil, due to this they had rich fertile soil which was good for farming. Not only good fertile soil land, but also the economy boosted. Farmers had a lot of profit due to growing crops. Crops were able to boost the economy because of irrigation. This increased food supply, fertile lands, canals, pipes, and farmers suffered less. Due to Egypt’s geography, economy boosted because of crops.

On the other land, Mesopotamia had hard time with their economy because of their geography. Mesopotamia depended on Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, however, they sometimes brought unpredictable floods (Wallenfels, 28-29). Unlike Egypt, Mesopotamia was overwhelmed with a large amount of silt. This silt was a constant cause of problems in the manmade irrigation systems (Grigg, 22). Not only the silt was the problem, but also the salt was the problem. Right below the surface of where Mesopotamia was, there was a large cluster of salt deposits. This high saline content of the soil made farming in Mesopotamia much more complex and difficult than it was in Egypt. Also, any time the irrigation waterways were not able to be maintained, a lack of the large food would result. Due to the salt deposit and overload of silt caused a decline in economy and crops in Mesopotamia (Grigg, 21).

Above all, Egypt had better and suitable environment to grow crops which developed their farming skills as well as their economy. Also, there were many farming methods and tools which led them to grow more crops, and no longer had to do hand harvested crops. Egypt’s distinguished geography, farming methods, and farming tools helped to set them up to be more advanced and outstanding society than Mesopotamian civilization.

Works Cited

Bertman, Stephen. Handbook to Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. New York: Oxford UP, 2005. Print.

Cline, Eric H., and Jill Rubalcaba. The Ancient Egyptian World. New York: Oxford UP, 2005. Print.

David, A. Rosalie. "Geography of Ancient Egypt." Handbook to Life in Ancient Egypt. New York: Facts On File, 2003. 117-22. Print.

Louis, and Jennifer. "Farming and Agriculture of Egypt and Mesopotamia." Farming and Agriculture of Egypt and Mesopotamia. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2014.

Roaf, Michael. Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East. Arlington, VA: Stonehenge, 1992. Print.

Wallenfels, Ronald. World Eras, Volume 8: Ancient Mesopotamia, 3300-331 BCE. Detroit: Gale, 2004. Print.

Gill, Vernon & Dale, Tom (1974). Topsoil and Civilization, University of Oklahoma Press.

Grigg, D.B, (1974). Agricultural Systems of the World. Cambridge University Press.

Jacobsent, Thorkild (1982). Salinity and Irrigation Agriculture in Antiquity, UndenaPublications.

Leonard, Jonathan Norton, (1973). The First Farmers, Time Life Books.

Louis, and Jennifer. "Farming and Agriculture of Egypt and Mesopotamia."Farming and Agriculture of Egypt and Mesopotamia. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2014.

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