As it applies to ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt: How did the geography and environment in both locations affect the development of each culture’s economy, government, and religious practices?
Mesopotamia, whose civilization developed around 4,000-3500 BCE, was located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, a fertile area (called the Fertile Crescent) that allowed for irrigation and the cultivation of crops. The development of agriculture allowed hunter-gatherers to settle down into permanent settlements and live in urban areas. The need for the upkeep of the cities along the rivers, as well as the construction of dams and other means to control the rivers, led to the development of government. Religion played a vital role in the development of government and urban areas, as gods were thought to be integral to the development of cities, and cities developed around ancient cult centers. Religious ziggurat structures were often located at the centers of cities. Around 3600 BCE, kings replaced priests as leaders and became the spokespeople of the gods.
In ancient Egypt, the people were dependent on the flooding of the Nile to grow and irrigate crops in an otherwise arid land. The dynastic period in Egypt began around 3100 BCE, when King Menes unified Upper and Lower Egypt and established his capital at Memphis near the Nile delta. The ability to grow surplus crops led to the development of a complex civilization that had a king (later a pharaoh) at its head, who controlled the agriculture and trade of the region. As the government developed in complexity, the vast bureaucracy collected taxes, maintained a system of justice, and recruited workers to grow certain crops and produce certain products as well as to carry out irrigation projects. The pharaohs of Egypt were regarded as divine and as intermediaries between people and the gods. The pharaohs were seen as critical in maintaining the support of gods to create an orderly universe.