After reading the articles on early civilization, I’ve identified several similarities and differences about the people who were from these three cultures. The civilizations in the articles include, the people from Mesopotamia, the Quiche’ Indians, a tribe in early Meso-America, and “The book of Genesis” which offers a Christian or biblical explanation of how our own civilization originated. I will tell you about how they believed they came into existence and what they thought they should do to ensure their civilization continued. The three stories offered insight on how the different cultures lived by describing how they believed their civilization was created.
Creation of Man
All three civilizations believed that the Earth, all the animals, and Man was created by one or several Gods. The Meso- Americans and Mesopotamiams believed in many Gods. On the other hand, the Christians believed that only one God created Man.
The Meso-Americans believed that Tepeu, the “Creator’ and the Forefathers, a group of great sages and thinkers created their world and everything in it.In the article “Popul Vuh”, the Quiche’ Indians wrote about how the Creator and the Forefathers planned and created the ” growth of the trees and thickets and the birth of life in the darkness, (The Popul Vuh, Chapter 1, Pg. 3).
The Mesopotamians believed their world was created after the Gods sent Marduk, the Warrior God to defeat the oldest of the Gods, Tiamet, the patron of Primeval Chaos. Tiamet created terrible dragons, serpents, Hurricanes, tempests and just about anything she could in order to prevent the Gods from creating someone to worship them, (The Creation Epic, Tablet 1, pg. 7). Marduk was summoned to kill Tiamet, which he did and created Man out of his blood and bone, (The Creation Epic, Tablet VI, pg. 11).
“The Book of Genesis” tells us how “God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and the cattle after their kind”, (The Book of Genesis, Chapter 1, pg. 13). It also tells how “God created Man in his own image”, (The Book of Genesis, Chapter 1, pg. 13). This explains that one God created the Earth, the animals, and finally, Man.
The Christians and the Mesopotamian people believed that Man was created in their Gods’ own image, while The Meso-Americans believed that Man was created from their surrounding environment. The Meso-American society must have been more Paleolithic than the other two civilizations since they identified more with the land in which they lived in than the Mesopotamians or the Christians.
A Belief in the Need to Worship Their Gods
By believing that their God or Gods had given them everything they had, all three civilizations saw that their Gods had their best interest, safety and security in mind. They believed that their Gods had great powers and controlled their World. Their belief that their God or Gods were so powerful gave them a way to explain their hardships and natural disasters. As long as the Gods were revered and worshipped by them, the people would prosper.
The “Popul Vuh” article describes the Quiche’ Indians’ need to worship the Gods when it writes that since the animals could not say the Gods’ names and worship them, they were punished by being sacrificed and condemned to be killed and eaten, (The Popul Vuh, pg.5).
“The Creation Epic” describes how Marduk kills Tiamet the Goddess of Chaos because she had planned evil against the Gods, Marduk’s fathers, (The Creation Epic, pg. 10). She represented evil and the Gods wanted Marduk to kill Tiamet and establish a place of worship, (The Creation Epic, Tablet IV, pg. 9).
Finally, the Christians write in “The Book of Genesis” that when the serpent told Eve that if she ate the forbidden fruit she would be “as Gods, knowing good and evil”, (The Book of Genesis, Chapter 3, pg. 15). God then punished Adam and Eve for eating the forbidden fruit by banishing them from the Garden of Eden, (The Book of Genesis, Chapter 3, pg. 15). This meant that the Christians felt the need to recognize and worship God in order for them to have everything that they needed to live safely and comfortably. If they went against God’s wishes there would be serious consequences.
Their Way of Life and Environment
The Quiche’ Indians lived in what must have been a beautiful coastal land, full of lush greenery, Cypress and Pine trees. There were also beautiful mountains, valleys, and rivers. Birds and deer abounded throughout this beautiful paradise. This is explained when the “The Popul Vuh” describes the creation of the Earth, (Popul Vuh, Chapter 1, pg. 4). The beautiful land with plenty of plant and wildlife indicates that these people were Paleolithic, hunting and gathering food, as they needed.
On the other hand, ” The Creation Epic” describes a very harsh “dry land”, (The Creation Epic, Tablet 1, pg. 7), full of conflict and war. There were natural disasters like hurricanes and tempests, (The Creation Epic, Tablet 1, pg. 8). Obviously, these people must have lived in an arid climate and were constantly in fear of invasion from other people. After reading the “The Creation epic” I believe that “the Goddess Tiamet represented Pre-civilized times. After Marduk defeated Tiamet, the world became civilized. The article mentions that Marduk “made stations for the great Gods “, and that he “fixed the year and divided it into divisions”, (The Creations Epic, Tablet V, pg. 11). This means that he built temples for the Gods and devised a calendar. These accomplishments give evidence that they had a specialization of Labor and must have had class divisions because they had to have priests. They also were into monument building. All of these are characteristics of a civilization.
The Christians describe a beautiful Garden of Eden, with plenty of grasses, grains, and fruits to eat. It describes how God “gathered the water together unto one place to make room for dry land, “(The Book of Genesis, Chapter 1, pg. 12), which indicates that the Garden of Eden was located along a large body of water. There was plenty of animal life in this beautiful land. Whales, birds of all kinds, cattle and many other kinds of wildlife thrived on this land and the water surrounding it. After God banishes Adam and Eve form the Garden of Eden they live a nomadic life. Their ancestors continue this way of life until the great flood when everyone except for Noah and his family dies, (The Book of Genesis, Chapter 6, pg. 17). According to Christian belief, after the Great Flood, Noah’s family start what is now the beginning of the civilization in which we now live in, (Chapter 7, pg. 18).
Religion or the worship of God or Gods has been used to explain the origin of civilizations throughout history. Other civilizations may vary a little on their explanation of how their own people originated, or how they should govern their lives in order to please their Gods and continue their existence. Wars have been started and entire civilizations have even been annihilated in order to ensure their beliefs are protected. This practice exists even today, and I suspect will continue throughout time.