Sample Research Paper on Cultural and Ethnic Studies

Every modern civilization must have borrowed some ideas from the ancient civilization. The first full civilization was recorded in Mesopotamia in the Middle East, an area surrounded by the Tigris-Euphrates valley. Later on, civilization spread to the Nile valley in Egypt before gaining popularity in other regions of the Middle East. The two forms of civilizations were replicated in other regions in Europe and Asia. This paper looks at how the pre-historic Mesopotamian and Egyptians civilizations influenced the modern Middle East civilization.

Prehistoric Mesopotamian Civilization

The ancient Mesopotamian civilization is usually described as the cradle of human civilization. Mesopotamia was located where Iraq is and was the first place to start agricultural activities. These activities included domestication of animals as a form of agricultural practice. The Mesopotamians were able to develop the wheel, cities and written language as early as 3000B.C (Weiss 996). Unlike the Egyptians and the Greeks, Mesopotamia comprised of various cultures. They also had a number of civilizations and empires but were unified by three main elements: written text and literacy; women rights, women land owners and working women; and religion.

It was situated between two rivers enabling and promoting first agricultural practices in the history of human civilization. The Sumerians from Mesopotamia were the first people to build cities. The women worked as mothers and wives and were occupied by duties that bordered around taking care of family members and homes (Hole 605). The men were trained to take on specialized jobs such as politicians, builders, musicians, and masons. They practiced some rites such as arranged marriages of children while they were still young. During marriage, the man would be called upon to pour out perfume over the head of his wife. Women wore amulets to protect them from high number of miscarriages which were on the rise during this time. The dead bodies wrapped in a rug or mat and kept in a sealed jar with clay.

Social Classes

Mesopotamian civilization had social classes, with farmers being at the bottom of the class followed by ruling classes of priests, kings, officials and soldiers. In the Middle East, class structure is still observed up today (Hole 607). In Mesopotamia, the elite class was restricted to few people because of the difficulty one had had to go though in acquiring literacy and the length of time required. In the Middle East, the class structure is maintained by factors such as accumulated or inherited wealth a person has.


The Middle East is known for monogamous marriages the same to Mesopotamian civilization. In many Arabic countries, the trend is the same; men marry just one wife (Oates and Oates 178). Rich families are still known to involve many concubines as it was in the pre-historic Mesopotamian culture. Men have much influence and say on the things concerning their families more than men. The same happened in the ancient Mesopotamian civilization

Art and Culture

The Middle East countries are well known for their beautiful cities. Dubai is an example of a modern city in the Middle East. The architecture of the buildings are similar to those of the ancient Mesopotamian cities (Weiss 1000). The temples are designed in a rectangular plan as they did with the Mesopotamian ones and the palaces are lavishly decorated and large. In the country sides, one could still see houses built out of sun-baked bricks such as those used by the Sumerians.

The Middle East and other regions in the world borrowed a lot from the ancient Mesopotamia. The Sumerians were the first to build cities that have been in replicated in major parts of the Middle East countries. They used the foundations laid down by the ancient builders form Mesopotamia (Hole 609). They use writings and use wheels in their transportations which were all developed by the Mesopotamians. The organized armies and complex bureaucracies in the Middle East have their origins from the ancient civilizations.

 The countries where the Mesopotamian civilization had the most influence included Palestine, Egypt and Syria, but it has spread all over other Middle East countries. The place of the ancient Mesopotamian civilization in the modern Middle East would not be disputed especially due to the fact that that they brought writing and other means of recording deeds. They got the modern Middle East civilization on its feet, and has kept it going since then.

The city-states of the Middle East have adopted the sociopolitical organization used by the Sumerians. Organization of the irrigation schemes, fortified cities with beautiful public buildings were all characteristics of the Mesopotamian civilization. As it was with the ancient civilization, religion plays a huge role in the designing of buildings within the Middle East cities. Much architectural attention is still given to religious structures, adornment and elaboration of palaces in the Middle East was borrowed from the pre-historic Mesopotamian civilization

Egyptian Civilization

The Egyptian pyramids were symbols of art and architecture. The Egyptians were talented in the works of art as evidenced by their detailed construction of the pyramids (Trigger 5). The Middle East people were frequent visitors to Egypt to carry out businesses, as well as for political meetings. They borrowed some architectural techniques from Egypt and used them in their countries. The modern cities needed strong knowledge of art and architecture; the interactions of the Egyptians and the Middle East countries contributed to the exportation of the Egyptian civilization.

The art used in the ancient Egypt gave birth to their strong film industry. Egypt still exports many of its films to the nearby Middle East countries (Baines 216). These movies are superior to the local films produced by the local film producers in those countries. In this manner, it could be said that the ancient civilization has contributed to the entertainment of the modern Middle East society.


Majority of the populace were peasant farmers who worked on the farms owned by Pharaoh. It had craftsmen who were slightly above the farmers in the social structure. The royal families were at the top of the social structure (Trigger 5). They also practiced slavery which provided cheap source of labor. Slavery has changed faces in the modern world but it could still be seen in the high number of poor people who move to work in the Middle East. People agencies have sprouted out and are many a kill out of the many people they transport to the Middle East go and work for small salaries. The social structure is still evidenced in the Middle East as it was in the ancient Egyptian civilization.

Writing and Literature

Ancient Egypt developed the first hieroglyphic writing. This type of writing could represent many things at the same time (Wenke 279). It could mean sound, word or even silence. The demotic writing which came towards the end of the Egyptian civilization has helped to promote language of literature in the Middle East. It is used in high cultural and religious contexts. The phonetics developed in demotic writing are still used some Middle East literatures.

 The “book of the dead” is well known for its message of life after death. The major religious groups of the Middle East believe in life after death; this may have been influenced by this book. The modern civilization depends so much on writing and literature, the ancient Egyptian civilization set the wheels rolling for the modern literature. The Egyptian literature influenced the Middle East literature mainly through the soldiers who sneaked into the Middle East countries.


The high level of mathematic skills developed in the ancient Egypt has made a lot of good to the modern society of the Middle East. It was more practical compared to the mathematical skills of the Mesopotamians; hence, it benefited Middle East civilization in lesser way .The Egyptian medicine was more advanced. Their doctors could stitch wounds, amputate ineffective limbs and repair bones that were broken (Wenke 281). This kind of medicine has helped the civilized societies of the Middle East to be more advanced and to attract patients from rich families all over the world. Even the temples used in the Middle East have followed the models of the Egyptian temples. The highly-developed practical skills of the Egyptian civilization were a strong foundation for the modern societies of the Middle East. The Mesopotamian civilization was the beginning of civilization, but the Egyptian civilization set the bar high and challenged men to be more creative. When one looks at the Middle East civilization, first thing they would notice are the beautiful skyscrapers of the Middle East cities. Egypt was source of knowledge and brilliance that fueled numerous inventions in the Middle East.

Stone carving and paintings of the pre-historic Egypt formed strong foundation for the modern civilization of the Middle East. The cities are beautifully decorated ,windows are tilted in a way to regulate heat loss and make the buildings more pleasing to the eye. The Egyptians toiled day and night to make  beautiful artifacts, jewelry and artworks in readiness for the day that their Pharaoh would die. The pharaoh was supposed to be buried in a tom full of precious belongings. The Egyptians were able to produce beautiful paintings, ceramics, metalwork and architecture that the visitors from the Middle East were able to copy and take to their countries. Middle East nations are leading in the world of jewelry and architecture.

Ship Building

Middle East hosts some of the best ship building companies in the world. Their ships are strong and durable. The ship building technology was one of the strong points of the ancient Egypt. They started building long ship as early as 3000BC and continued to perfect their boat building techniques as times passed (Baines 218). The perfected ship designs used by the Middle East ship building companies were developed on scrolls by ancient Egyptians.


The pre-historic Mesopotamian civilization, as well as the Egyptian civilization contributed largely in the modern Middle East civilization. The big cities with tall skyscrapers, established ship building industry, architecture and art are all evidence of the pre-historic civilizations. The two pre-historic civilizations laid the foundation for the modern Middle East civilization. While the first civilization began in Mesopotamia, Egyptian civilization came later after the business people from the Middle East began exchanging goods with the Egyptians. Mesopotamian civilization in the modern Middle East was vital due to the fact that that they brought writing and other means of recording deeds. Most of the cities in the Middle East replicated the Mesopotamia civilization. However, Egyptian civilization grew faster than the Mesopotamia civilization, thus, the Egyptian civilization spread widely in other parts of the Middle East, as well as in Europe. The Egyptian civilization helped to promoting language of literature in the Middle East.

Works Cited

Baines, John. “Temples as symbols, guarantors, and participants in Egyptian civilization.” The Temple in Ancient Egypt: New Discoveries and Recent Research (1997): 216-41.

Hole, Frank. “Investigating the origins of Mesopotamian civilization.” Science 153.3736 (1966): 605-611.

Weiss, Harvey, et al. “The genesis and collapse of third millennium north Mesopotamian civilization.” Science 261.5124 (1993): 995-1004.

Oates, J., and D. Oates. “The role of exchange relations in the origins of Mesopotamian civilization.” Explaining social change: studies in honour of Colin Renfrew (2004): 177-92.

Trigger, Bruce G. “The rise of Egyptian civilization.” Ancient Egypt: a social history (1983): 1-70.

Wenke, Robert J. “The evolution of early Egyptian civilization: Issues and evidence.” Journal of World Prehistory 5.3 (1991): 279-329.