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Importance of Writing to the Foundation of a Society

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    The development of early ancient societies throughout history displays the complexity in humans throughout the creation of languages, innovations, and communities. These complex societies formed along five different river basins, creating five distinct river basin societies. As these societies received annual floods from these rivers, the food surplus grew immensely, letting the society thrive without a fear of a famine. This led to early urbanization which brought new innovations. However with all these innovations emerging, climate change also emerged as a prominent challenge to the Mesopotamian and Egyptian societies.

    Climate change contributed to the lack of resources in these societies causing a growth of chaos, including theft. Around 2200 BCE, the Old Kingdom in Egypt collapsed due to climate change, and Mesopotamia also declined as a society. People living in both Mesopotamia and Egypt faced the challenges of climate change, including a lack in resources. People used writing to address problems caused by climate change, such as theft, migrants and invaders in the societies. This was a way to keep the order in the communities, because of the undenying fear of an ecological crisis. Writing served as a outlet for these people, because they were able to express their fears and concerns into words.

    In the text, “Be a Scribe!” and other primary sources from the Middle Kingdom, there is a environmental and political connection. The author of “Be a Scribe!” is believed to have lived in the Middle Kingdom and was a high status scribe. In this document, he’s writing to a student who doesn’t see the importance in writing, and the author attempts to persuade him of the importance. The author acknowledges the peasants and the hard work they do as a way to encourage the student to want to be a scribe, and to take the opportunity. The author tries to persuade the student by stating, “To make you become one whom the king trusts; to make you gain entrance to treasury and granary. To make you receive the ship-load at the gate of the granary. To make you issue the offerings on feast days.” The teacher uses this argument as a way to motivate the student because of the benefits a scribe gets.

    The author also shows here how societies rationed resources because of the drought in Egypt that caused a lack of resources. This was a way to keep order in the community as climate change caused a fear of a ecological crisis. Furthermore, scribes were the ones to enforce this rule, which gave them high status and were most likely wealthy in resources. In other words, high status members agreed to ration food supplies, and they enforced this by having scribes record information. This connection between the environment and politics is important, where climate change causes people to take action and reorganize the society, leading to this creation of status. Scribes are ordered by kings to take responsibility of rationing food, which let them be wealthy in resources and power.

    Another source, the “Declaration of Innocence” from The Book Of The Dead dating from the Egyptian Late Period presents a moral code for the people. It was used to combat the high tensions in the community. At this time climate change affected Egyptian societies causing a lack of resources, which brought migrants and invaders from other regions. These migrants caused high tensions as “peasants who were tired of paying high rates of taxation dedicated to support the Pharaohs’ wars.” The “Declaration of Innocence” is read to a person before or after their death it states, “I have done no murder. I have not commanded to murder. I have not occasioned grief to any. I have not diminished the food in the temples. I have not lessened the bread of the gods.” This source is an example of a set of rules in the society for the people to follow, this moral code was the guideline of how to be a good citizen.The underlying fear of a ecological crisis is clear by the text emphasizing the importance to keep control in the society, in order to unify their people. The leaders enforce this by denying an afterlife to the people if they did not follow this moral code, following Ma’at. Leaders took responsibility to keep order of a environment with high tensions causing stratification to form, where the general population would adhere to leaders.

    The primary source, the “Epic of Gilgamesh – The Flood”, explores the divide between the original inhabitants of Mesopotamia and the migrants from other regions. In the time of 2000 BCE there was a influx of migrants from other regions, which affected the people originally living there inevitably showing in writing. One of the earliest pieces of writing, The Epic Of Gilgamesh includes the text, “Epic of Gilgamesh – The Flood”, which has two main characters, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, whom represent the outside and the inside world. The inside world is the inhabitants of Uruk, which is represented by Gilgamesh and the outside world is represented by Enkidu, who are the migrants. Enkidu was setting off the traps causing the trapper to go to his father for advice, and he said to bring a woman from Uruk to seduce Enkidu.

    The text states, “For six days and seven nights they lay together, for Enkidu had forgotten his home in the hills; but when he was satisfied he went back to the wild beasts. Then, when the gazelle saw him, they bolted away; when the wild creatures saw him they fled.” After Enkidu sleeps with the woman from Uruk, he becomes civilized and more human-like. This shows how people of Mesopotamia saw themselves as civilized and more evolved than outsiders, who were barbaric and savage. Culture and overall life was changing for the Mesopotamian people, creating a fear of a ecological crisis, this was reflected in their writings. People drew a divide between themselves and other migrants of different cultures as a way to preserve their culture in a time of crisis.

    The Epic of Gilgamesh also has another story, “The Story Of The Flood”, where it also shows how because of climate change bringing in these migrants, there are high tensions. The story begins with Utnapishtim telling Gilgamesh a story, talking about the growing city of Shurrupak, “In those days the world teemed, the people multiplied, the world bellowed like a wild bull, and the great god was aroused by the clamour. Enlil heard the clamour and he said to the gods in council, “The uproar of mankind is intolerable and sleep is no longer possible by reason of the babel.” So the gods agreed to exterminate mankind.” This can parallel what the inhabitants of Mesopotamia felt because here Enlil expresses how mankind has created such loud cities and they aren’t following what he says. This can parallel how migrants brought along their own cultures into Mesopotamia and original inhabitants saw that they begun to merge together their own cultures rather than submitting under Mesopotamian culture. The Mesopotamian people feared for the disappearance of their culture and used writing as a way to express their anger and fear for the migrants.

    Writing appears to be very important to the foundation of a society, people use writing as a way to address their concerns and fears of their environment. People living in Mesopotamia and Egypt both faced the problems of climate change, to which they faced a fear of a ecological crisis. Writing was used to create rules or moral codes, which led to the creation of leaders and stratification, however writing was also used to convey an idea or feeling.

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