1.3.1- State Unifying Culture

Table Of Contents

Case Study: Ancient Egypt
AGMSPRITE Conclusion
1. Overview

The rise of widespread culture and the rise of states went hand in hand. Culture is defined as “the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group”1. In smaller groups, such as hunter-gathering nomadic tribes, kinship was more than enough to exert a level of power over others. So, as large states began to come into power from 3500 to 500 B.C.E, leaders needed more than just their kinships to gain authority over their new subjects 2. As the cities grew more powerful and more influential, their culture spread further into newly conquered territories and towns. While many different aspects of culture were used to by leaders to justify their right to rule, they primarily used religion to gain authority over their subjects; they usually did this by inserting some sort of connection between kingship and God (or Heaven)2. While leaders used common cultural traits to help gain authority over their people, their subjects, a widespread shared culture also brings a sense of national pride to a state's inhabitants 5. Things such as writing, art, monuments, and clothing helped to spread common culture even further than a state's set boundaries and gave its inhabitants a things which they all had in common. Writing and art allowed for a communication of stories and information over large distances, which were essential to the growth of culture. This tie between a shared culture and the unification of large groups of people into states can be found in various places (from the Americas, to Mesopotamia, to China), however, only Egypt , will be looked at in this article 2.

(above) First wave civilizations' rulers often times tried to draw some type of cultural power, to justify their rule.
(above) First wave civilizations' rulers often times tried to draw some type of cultural power, to justify their rule.

2. Case Study: Anicent Egypt
The bonds between culture and state very apparent than in Ancient Egypt.The people of Egypt worshiped the pharaohs like they were Gods2. The pharaoh claimed to embody all the gods of Egypt and that they controlled the flooding of the Nile2. The Nile was a source of livelihood and food for the people of Egypt, many of whom were farmers 2. They depended on the Nile's regular flooding to keep their farmland fertile 2. The Nile was so important, that Egyptians even had a God of the Nile, Anuket 8.
Egyptians held multiple festivals, which payed their respects to the Gods 7. Many of these festivals were led by pharaohs, or even wished for the well being of the pharaohs, like the Sed Festival 7. This represents the deep tie between the pharaoh (and the state) who served as a connection to the Gods, and Egyptian culture. Additionally since the religion was so widespread, it served as a similarity which brought the people of Egypt together, especially during festivals.
The creation of a writing system allowed for cultural traditions, government documents, and other information to be transferred over long distances and through time. In a similar way, artwork depicting festivals and worship of gods and pharaohs represents how central religion and pharaohs were to Egyptian culture.
However, it should be noted that while culture helped the pharaohs gain the loyalty of their subjects, it also led to their downfall. Changes in weather and repeated cases of minimal flooding by the Nile, led to massive starvation. This ultimately led to political disruption, which discredited the pharaohs’ god-like power and dissolved Egypt into multiple smaller states2.
A shared culture between the people of Egypt helped not only to bond the people of Egypt together, but also unite them under the power of the pharaohs. The pharaohs used the common culture, especially the widespread religion, of their state in order justify their authority to rule. The relationship between a common culture and the unification of a state is extremely important, as shown by the cultural shift mentioned in the previous paragraph. When culture shifted against the state, the unified state of Egypt faced political turmoil. However, when culture shifted in the pharaohs favor, they ruled their land like gods, led their state into warfare, built the pyramids and had the respect of their people, all thanks to the bonds of culture.

(above) Pharaohs such as Seti I, pictured above, were revered like Gods. Showing the cultural power of the pharaoh

3. AGMSPRITE Conclusion
A: helped to further engrave a leader’s power (i.e: pyramids testament to the power of the pharaohs), helped to pass on religious stories and news which helped spread culture
G: geography helped to shape culture, people of Egypt worshipped many nature based deities and worshipped the
Nile because it provided them with fertile land and their livelihoods depended on it, Egyptians lived in a
relatively secure area and were free from invaders this productive land produced a more cheery outlook on the
world leading to ideas such as an afterlife, of Mesopotamia were in a very invader prone region with no
geographical barriers which led them to believe in an inherently disorderly world therefore many of they’re
leaders tended to be conquerors rather than god-like pharaohs.
M: in the case of Mesopotamia which was in a precarious region numerous conflicts led to many conquering rulers
and the view that the world was disorderly and chaotic, many rulers led their armies into battle, and many
conquered new territories and assimilated them into their states culture and political hierarchy
S: a social structure was built, upon which rulers who were associated with god were put at the top, followed by
priests and the ruler’s top subordinates, followed by everyone else.
P: many rulers claimed the god-given right to rule, or that they were gods in order to gain the favor of their people.
Mostly led to a single man having power. Lots of conquering and then assimilation (especially in the case of
R: religion was a big part of a society’s culture and was used by rulers in order to justify their rule. As such, rulers
who claimed to be God were worshiped like one and religion was manipulated a lot by rulers in order to put
rulers in line with God.
I: Rulers used culture to help control their people compared to the kinship that gave leaders power previously.
T: tools used for artwork, or types of writing, or tools used to build monuments such as the pyramids helped to
further symbolize a ruler’s power and spread culture.
E: many religions were tied to the environment, such as Egyptian religion and the Nile. The more favorable the
farming conditions of the year the better for the ruler. However, bad weather or other environmental factors which
decrease crop output could lead to political disruption, as in the case of Egypt, and the discrediting of leaders.

4. Citations

[1]: "culture." The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005. 06 Oct. 2011. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/culture>.
[2]: Strayer: Ways of the World, p. 85-114
[3]: "EAWC: Ancient Egypt." Exploring Ancient World Cultures. University of Evansville, 6 Oct. 2011. Web. 06 Oct. 2011. <http://eawc.evansville.edu/egpage.htm>.
[4]: Grajetzki: Burial Customs, p. 7-14
[5]: Hutchinson, John and Smith, Anthony D., ed (1994). Nationalism. Oxford Readers. Oxford: Oxford
University Press. pp. 4–5.
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[7]:Nebebi. "Ancient Egyptian Festivals." Faculty Pages. Albuquerque Academy, 7 Oct. 2011. Web. 07 Oct. 2011. <http://ftp.aa.edu/lydon/egypt/hsi6eygpt/index.htm>.
[8]: The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, Wilkinson, pg. 26/7
[9]: "Ancient Egypt Pictures -- National Geographic Kids." Kids' Games, Animals, Photos, Stories, and More -- National Geographic Kids. National Geographic, 7 Oct. 2011. Web. 07 Oct. 2011. <http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/photos/ancient-egypt/>.
[10]: "The Pyramids: The World in Words - Telegraph." Telegraph.co.uk - Telegraph Online, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph - Telegraph. Telegraph, 7 Oct. 2011. Web. 07 Oct. 2011. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/artsandculture/4162322/The-Pyramids-The-world-in-words.html>.
[11]: "Brooklyn Museum: Egypt Through Other Eyes." Brooklyn Museum: Welcome. Brooklyn Museum, 7 Oct. 2011. Web. 07 Oct. 2011. <http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/egypt_through_other_eyes/>.