Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamian Civilization Essay:
Death is one of the oldest themes that attracted the attention of human culture and thought. In Ancient Egypt as well as in Mesopotamia, death was seen with great fear and respect, just as it is today. For the Ancient Egyptians, death was not the end of life, but rather, it was a new phase or a new life which is independent by itself. Henceforth, the Egyptian Pharos prepared very luxurious death chambers and graves in which they packed their belongings such as gold and other property, hoping to use them in their other life. Death for the Egyptians was considered a very respectful and important event that was very sacred. Some Pharos, however, considered themselves to be gods, but they still treated death with great respect. The Ancient Egyptians, in general, saw death as a station through which they had to pass in order to reach the other life or the unknown world, where those who had greater knowledge, insight and wisdom would occupy higher ranks.
For the Mesopotamian civilizations, on the other hand, death was different in several ways, although it was also greatly respectable. To understand the theme of death in Mesopotamian cultures, it is important to analyze the theme of death in Epic of Gilgamish. Gilgamish, as a great and omnipotent king who feared nothing, was not afraid of death and did not even take into consideration. However, when Enkidu dies between his hands, Gilgamish suddenly discovers that death is a serious threat to human life, and that it is a very terrifying event, because it simply means the end.
Only the gods could live forever, whereas human beings simply ceased to exist once they died. This explains the great fear and pain that Gilgamish started to feel towards death after losing Enkidu. This also explains why his mother was very concerned about giving Gilgamish a chance to become a full god, otherwise, he would die and lose the only chance to live forever. This fear of death also explains why Gilgamish became so sad and sorrowful when he lost the plant of eternity, meaning that he had become a mortal, that is, a normal human being whose life would come to an end one day.
Between the Ancient Egyptians and the Mesopotamian civilizations, the image of death as a respectable, sacred and serious event, was a shared belief. However, while the Egyptians believed in a certain life after death and prepared for it, the Mesopotamian peoples did not believe in life after death, and rather, thought that man’s chance was only on earth.
Whatever the views of these two ancient civilizations were, it is easy to find out that the same views exist today, between those who believe in life after death and those who do not. It is also important to notice that even today, death is accompanied with many sacred and symbolic rituals that show how important this event is in the life of man. After all, it is the end of this life.