What do you believe were the most significant ways Near East & Ancient Greece were different? While acknowledging the numerous similarities between the ancient Near East and ancient Greece, what do you believe were two of the most significant ways they were different?

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The two most important differences between the ancient Middle East and ancient Greece were in the relationship between the public and private spheres in each society and in the role that art, literature, and abstract thought played in mediating the relationship between human existence and cosmic reality in each of...

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The two most important differences between the ancient Middle East and ancient Greece were in the relationship between the public and private spheres in each society and in the role that art, literature, and abstract thought played in mediating the relationship between human existence and cosmic reality in each of them.

During the intense social and political struggles of the Archaic period (approximately 800 to 500 BCE), Greek society gradually developed the idea of a civil community (polis) of equal citizens governed by laws as an alternative to the despotic royal governments and vertical social hierarchy that were typical for the ancient Middle East. The Greek civil community was limited to free males who were the descendants of citizens. It did not include women, slaves, or resident aliens. Nevertheless, it was a big step forward in social development. For example, Solon’s reforms in Athens abolished debt slavery because it threatened civic solidarity, which was essential for the survival of the Athenian city-state. In ancient Middle Eastern societies, in contrast, debt slavery persisted despite its destructive social effects. For example, in the Old Babylonian kingdom, the government made occasional attempts to free indebted individuals. Debt was such a widespread problem that the government faced dwindling tax income due to enslavement, as slaves no longer payed taxes. Biblical law limited debt slavery but did not abolish it.

The development of Greek science and philosophy as well as Greek theater and poetry illustrates the new importance of innovative cultural creativity for integrating the individual, social, and cosmic dimensions of life. In the Middle Eastern tradition, well-established and publicly approved cultural norms typically played a much larger role than individual innovation in shaping cultural activity. Of course, Greek traditionalists resented the innovators and periodically persecuted them. For example, the Athenians accused Socrates of religious innovation and condemned him to die. As a general rule, however, the ancient Greeks were more open to cultural innovation than the ancient Middle Easterners.

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A substantial difference between them is that the Ancient Near East (from Sumar to Israel and Jordan to Iraq and Egypt plus more) predates Ancient Greece by close to 2000 years: originates from: Sumar, 2500-700 BC; Greece, 800-600 BC. This distance across time alone will embed vast differences between the two. Each civilization introduced important things to world civilization but these were of somewhat different natures. The Ancient Near East, for instance, contributed the first potter's wheel and mill wheel, while Ancient Greece contributed the reintroduction of literacy following the fall of the Mycenaean culture and it contributed Aristotle's treatises. The Ancient Near East contributed stratified social divisions, a central government and laws, while Ancient Greece contributed small, isolated self-governing communities and the merchant class. So while they are similar in that both contributed to world culture, what they contributed--in many cases--is different by the defining quality of vast time: one contributed the "first," while the other contributed the improved or the new.

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The main difference between the Near East and Ancient Greece was culture. Greece was essentially more advanced in that area. Greece had different cultural experiments, such as democracy. The Near East, usually today's Middle East, did not. It consisted mostly of monarchies and tribal communities.
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