The advances in the sphere of agriculture enabled people to accumulate considerable resources and knowledge that led to the fast development of ancient societies in fertile areas. Numerous ancient texts reflect people’s concerns regarding material aspects, as well as the establishment of proper codes that could regulate civilized behavior within the boundaries of their societies.1 The review of the texts and norms that existed at that time suggests that people tried to create fair societies that had hierarchies and order as their ground.
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The famous Hammurabi code can be seen as a set of rules that help people interact and make sure that their property is well-maintained. The tale about an Egyptian sailor shows ancient people’s attitude towards material things (such as oils, perfumes, and other valuables) and labor.2 It is expected that people work hard, accumulate resources, and live happily with their families. These are precepts of the gods of that period in Egypt and Mesopotamia. The precepts of Ptah-Hotep also contain similar messages, but another concept is more prominent in these texts. Authority is put to the fore, and people are taught to act rightfully and follow the rules created by leaders, be it a king, a god, or a judge.3 Similar teachings are present in the Hammurabi code and the sailor’s tale mentioned above, which shows a clear interest in this aspect. Therefore, it is possible to note that people who lived in 2000 BCE in Mesopotamia and Egypt worked on the development of the societies with certain norms. All were expected to work hard, follow the established rules, and accept the authority of the elite, be it nobles, bureaucrats, or military groups.
Bentley, Jerry, and Herbert Ziegler. Traditions & Encounters: Volume 1: From the Beginning to 1500. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education, 2014.
Fordham University. “Ancient History Sourcebook: Tales of Ancient Egypt: The Shipwrecked Sailor, c. 2200 BCE.” Web.
Fordham University. “Ancient History Sourcebook: The Precepts of Ptah-Hotep, c. 2200 BCE.” Web.
- Jerry Bentley and Herbert Ziegler, Traditions & Encounters: Volume 1: From the Beginning to 1500 (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education, 2014), 61.
- Fordham University, “Ancient History Sourcebook: Tales of Ancient Egypt: The Shipwrecked Sailor, c. 2200 BCE,” Web.
- Fordham University, “Ancient History Sourcebook: The Precepts of Ptah-Hotep, c. 2200 BCE,” Web.