Student Question

Why did a unified kingdom develop earlier in Egypt than in Mesopotamia?

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Egypt is very isolated compared to Mesopotamia. Surrounded by deserts, the Nile River provided the ancient Egyptians with the means to form a civilization. While Mesopotamia was also a river-based civilization, it was not as geographically isolated as Egypt and therefore was more open to cultural and military expansion as well as invasion. This diversity of ideas and culture would lead to Mesopotamian politics being more participatory and slightly less authoritative than the Egyptian civilization. Rather than one unified kingdom, Mesopotamia was comprised of many independent city states, each ruled by a king. It would have been very difficult for one city state to dominate the others. 

In Egypt, life revolved entirely around the Nile River. This common reliance on the Nile helped to unify Egypt into a kingdom 600 miles long. Farming on the Nile dates back to around 5,000 BCE, and from that point on the Egyptian civilization made rapid advances both culturally and technologically. By around 3,150 BCE, under the rule of King Menes, the southern kingdom of Egypt conquered the north and unified them into one massive kingdom along the upper Nile River. With a strong authoritarian political system in place and a pharaoh serving as a revered and all-powerful God-King, the Egyptian dynastic system remained largely unchanged for 3,000 years. 

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