Ancient and early-modern societies

The earliest civilization played a pertinent role in shaping the modern societies. The paper will focus on the differences and similarities in four major societies. They include Egypt, China, India, and Rome, which were located in different continents in the world. The paper will first address the similarities in the ancient and modern societies before progressing to the differences. The similarities in the four civilizations are that they all begin with a hereditary form of leadership. The position of leader was often passed from the father to sons apart from Egypt where women were also pharaohs. Furthermore, they had a polytheistic religion as opposed to a universal god. The gods were worshipped based on their power and seasons. They had temples that were used to conduct various rituals to their gods. In addition, the culture of slavery was practised through all the civilization.

Moreover, the military was used in their expansion strategies and to wield power on their enemies. Art was another common denominator through all the civilizations, though it varied with the type of society. Furthermore, the cultures also have the belief in the continuity of life after death. Different societies accepted and manipulated the concept in various ways to suit their religion and culture. Despite, the similarities, there are differences that are manifested in the 4 major civilizations. The disparities are what made each of the ancient and modern societies tackled in the paper manage to survive and become infamous in the world history.


Egypt is one of the most renowned civilizations in Africa. The society has managed to withstand with all the revolutions to become one among the known oldest societies in the world. In Egypt, the political leadership was mainly hereditary. The leader was regarded as Pharaoh. Moreover, the hereditary position was gender indiscriminate as women could also ascend to the position of leadership in the society. “there is strong evidence to suggest that women had ruled as sole pharaoh…” Some of the Queens who served as Pharaohs are Hatshepsut and Cleopatra. Leadership or the throne was passed from the Pharaoh to their eldest son and their main recognized wife (Milestone Documents, Mussachio: Divine Birth and Coronation Inscriptions of Hatshepsut).

Furthermore, the nation had a number of military operations that were geared to reinforce and increase the supremacy of Egypt. They extended their reign to the north after fighting enemies and conducted organized expeditions to the south of Egypt in a region called Punt (Milestone Documents, Mussachio: Divine Birth and Coronation Inscriptions of Hatshepsut). During the period of 5300-3000 BCE, Egypt was segregated into upper and lower. During this period there were two types of governments which are Herakleopolis and Thebes, which were present in the north and south respectively. The society was united in 2055-150 BCE and the kingdom was referred to as the Middle Kingdom. The society was governed by foreigners before the 18th Dynasty came to power. However, this did not last long as the nation reverted to being controlled by the Romans another set of foreigners (Milestone Documents, Schlinger: Egypt).

From the religious perspective, there were a lot of changes that were witnessed. Egyptians believed in the worship of many gods referred to as polytheism. In the 18th Dynasty, Pharaoh Amenhotep IV changed the worship to be centered on only one god minor god in Egypt called Aton. They, later on, reverted to the worship of the known gods in Egypt after his death and his son ascended to the throne. During the Old Kingdom (2686-2160), they had pyramids were leaders were buried and religious texts inscribed on the walls and Sarcophagi (Milestone Documents, Schlinger: Egypt).

From the societal perspective, the society had accepted a lot of diversification by participating in various trade activities. The nation had an immense inactive lifestyle, craft civilization, and trade with outside societies that had diverse cultures. This was during the Egyptian Predynastic period (ca 5300- 3000 BCE). Stories were also written for the purpose of creating a cordial society and art was promoted (Milestone Documents, Schlinger: Egypt). Furthermore, the interactions with other cultures resulted in the rise of different ways of life that were accommodated within the Egyptian culture. There was the mixture of text and symbol in writing the contemporary theology. Functions were held that were attended by foreign leaders or their selected dignitaries in Egypt (Milestone Documents, Stannish: Great Hymns to the Athen).


From a political perspective, China was governed by different dynasties. The one that established the traditional China governance was the Qin Dynasty in (ca.259-210 BCE). The influence of the Emperor Prince Zheng resulted in suitable reforms that resulted in the formation of a military sate. Furthermore, they had legalist philosophy that promoted the progress of the state. The emperor, Prince Zheng ended up unifying the states of Zhao, Qi, Chun, Wei, Qin, and Han using his political skills and talents (Milestone Documents, Dong: The Qin Empire). Furthermore, the during war they used cavalry and used iron weapons which improved their success in the fights.

The Great Wall of China was developed with the aim of preventing the invasion of China by the nomadic Xiongu located in the north. In 206 BCE, there was war after the death of the Emperor resulting in a new leader taking power. The new leader Han, inherited the imperial system, but the hereditary leadership was slowly terminated (Milestone Documents, Dong: The Qin Empire). The form of political domination of the kingdom shaped the supremacy of other kingdoms that they conquered. Moreover, other civilizations like Rome or Brahmanic India incorporated the Chinese leadership in their system (Milestone Documents, Cunningham: The influence of China on Japan and Korea).

From the religious perspective, the Chinese believed that there was an absolute divine power that influenced the universe. In the 8th century BCE, the Zhou philosophy promulgated the idea of Mandate of Heaven. It directed the social and political power, especially when it comes to selecting the emperor. The emperor was regarded, son of Heaven, one who received the mandate of Heaven. The association of religion and political leadership was central in balancing the Yin and Yang in the present world. This referred to the good and bad influence of people. Furthermore, sacrifices were performed in the temples by the emperor o secure their leadership (Milestone Documents, Doing: The Mandate of Heaven and Dynastic Cycle).

Buddhism was introduced into China during the Han Dynasty, it originated from India. The religion was able to be embraced because it reverberated with the teachings of compassion and enlightenment that were upheld in Chinese religious practices. Moreover, the corruption of Confucian court that was the center in religion. In addition, the acceptance by the Emperor and other leaders to solidifying their leadership resulted in the spread of Buddhism. Buddhism became a state religion during the reign of Tang Dynasty in (618-907 CE) which also shaped the Chinese culture and that of its neighbours (Milestone Documents, Cunningham: The influence of China on Japan and Korea).

The members of the society apart from the Qin society could either ascend or descend the social ladder. In addition, the society had a social and moral philosophy that was central in ensuring the rule of law. The ones who failed to obey the law were punished for taking part in state projects while those who obeyed were rewarded. In addition, they had the Chinese language that unified the state, the communication a systems were improved, and system of measures and weights was developed. They had a regular food supply that was facilitated through the land irrigation system (Milestone Documents, Dong: The Qin Empire).

They buried their dead in tombs and had memorial artifacts. Furthermore, they used the ideographic script in writing texts that were inscribed on the turtle shells and bones. Moreover, they had an education system that fostered the leadership and development of humanist philosophies. Additionally, they had a peculiar way of dressing and architecture models that were later adopted by Korea and Japan (Milestone Documents, Cunningham: The influence of China on Japan and Korea).


From a political perspective, India was subdivided into various political entities that fought against each other for supremacy. Unification of the region was initiated during 322 BCE under the leadership of Magadha. He was overthrown by Chandragupta Maurya who later on concentrated on the expansion of the territory after Alexander the Great abdicated the region. He formulated a centralized leadership that had a lot of bureaucracy and strict law codes (Milestone Documents, Gulayas: The Maurya Empire).

The political administration introduced a sense of stability that led to the development of infrastructure and agriculture. Furthermore, they formed diplomatic connections with other kingdoms like the Hellnistic Kingdom to foster progress. The Asoka leader during the 261 BCE renowned war resulting in a period of immense prosperity and peace. This was after his army killed a lot of people in the battle of the kingdom of Kalinga (Milestone Documents, Gulayas: The Maurya Empire).

The Indian religion (1500-1200 BCE) is based on a number of writings that are termed as the Vedas. They are the “religious and philosophical literature…” that have shaped the religion and they were written in Sanskrit. They are four Vedas which are Athrava Veda, Rig, Sama, and Rig Veda. Furthermore, they had incarnations that were used during worship. The Indian religion has diversity in that apart from Hinduism there are Jainism and Buddhism. Although, Hinduism is more recognized due to its association to the Veda.

Furthermore, they had divine authenticity which was enshrined in the power of liberation. The religion is accommodative of new religions that supplement the existing practices (Milestone Documents, Zavalay: Vedas and Indian Religion). His support of Buddhism and his desire to spread it resulted in its growth in nations that it was accepted despite not finding its position in India (Milestone Documents, Gulays: The Maurya Empire). The people believed in reincarnation (Sasmara which enforced the concept of continuity of life.

In addition, they focused on the concept of Karma that was enshrined in ensuring harmony and peace in the society (Milestone Documents, Zavalay: Vedas and Indian Religion). The texts were written during 2600 BCE from the right to left and it also incorporated pictures, words, and signs. Moreover, the texts were mainly short had symbols. Moreover, their art was used to depict animals, deities and their leaders. In addition, their dead people during the Indus Civilzation were buried in “…wooden coffins that contained pottery vessels, copper, shells, rings and beads” (Milestone Documents, Chavalas: Indus Valley Civilization).

Additionally, they practiced agriculture, craft technology, and art from the construction. Furthermore, the increase in the number of craftsmen and urban merchants contributed to the economic development of the region. “…stone pillars with edicts that were carved on them were present in the empire”. They were used to indicate the words of the leader during that time known as Asoka (Milestone Documents, Gulays: The Maurya Empire).


In the Roman Empire leadership was monarchical which was abandoned with the creation of the Roman Republic in the 6th century. They created assemblies, Senate, and new ways people could ascend to power. They had a legal system in form of the constitution that was used to aid governance. They had the constitution of Carthage, Sparta, and Arthenian. Moreover, the Romans engaged in a series of wars during both periods to reinforce their reign and expand their empire (Milestone Documents, Shepherd: Roman Republic). The growth of the empire exposed them to a lot of wars internally and externally. The Roman Empire was segregated into Western and Eastern Rome. The incorporation of other cultures within them after conquest diluted the Roman citizenship which weakened the leadership and accelerated the fall of the empire.

The Western Empire of Rome was the first to fall due to external and internal wars (Milestone Documents, Burns: The Roman Empire). From the religious perspective, they borrowed most elements of their religion from the Greeks. Furthermore, they had Rome Dea who was renowned and worshipped by Romans for civic duty.  divine personification of Rome herself. In addition, they had a Roman temple or altars for their gods. Roman society was majorly shaped through the interactions with foreign societies like Ertuscans, who had a major influence and the Greeks. They also focused on poetry and drama, especially in form of Satire’ (Milestone Documents, Shepherd: Roman Culture). The imperial cult focused on the worship of the dead and living emperors. The dead emperors could be propelled to the position of gods. Christianity became a dominant religion in the Roman Empire in 476 which resulted in the eradication of the Imperial cult that had dominated Rome for many centuries (Milestone Documents, Burns: The Roman Empire).

Moreover, they also focused on the philosophy where the elite took part in lessons. In addition, the historiography was used to reinforce the history of Rome in the city. Several of the earliest histories of Rome were written in Greek. This is an indication of a major influence of the Greek culture in the Romans way of life (Milestone Documents, Shepherd: Roman Culture). There was a class struggle during the Roman Republic era which resulted in the abolition of slavery. This resulted in the creation of the plebeian assembly in 287 BCE and total abolishment of slavery (Milestone Documents, Shepherd: Government of Roman Republic).


In conclusion, based on the discussions of the Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, and Roman societies have a comprehensive history. The history shows the distinctive difference that made the societies and civilizations outstanding. In other words, the peculiar characteristics were imminent in their ability to succeed and withstand the revolutions that have taken place through the years. The similarities discussed in the paper indicate that each civilization develops along others. In addition, the attribute of dependency is portrayed in the similarities that are present in all the discussed civilizations.


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