In the development of their forms of government, Egypt went straight from pre-civilization to large government units, was more centralized and authority was concentrated in a divine Pharaoh. On the other hand, Mesopotamia passed through a city-state phase, authority was more dispersed and governance was exercised through councils and participatory institutions.
In form of writing, both cultures developed complex forms of writing which was monopolized by the priestly class. However, Mesopotamia developed the cuneiform alphabet while Egypt had its hieroglyphics, a more pictorial form based on simplified pictures of objects abstracted to represent concepts or sounds. Mesopotamian writing material was comprised of clay tablets and animal skins, and produced an epic literary tradition. Egypt used the papyrus formed from reeds, but used it more for record keeping (Robert Guisepi, The Origins of Civilizations, 2007).
In great part, Mesopotamia developed a more advance level of science and mathematics than Egypt, although Egyptians were first to determine the length of the solar year and developed a science of medicine. Egyptian civilization was not centered on science, however, but on religion, the worship of many gods, magical rituals, and obsession with life after death (Cornelius Petrus Tiele, Comparative History of the Egyptian and Mesopotamian Religions, 1882). While their early religions developed from an awareness of nature and the environment, their attitudes differed greatly. Egypt, prosperous and harmonious and consistent with its attribution as the “gift of the Nile,” regarded their gods positively with the promise of a joyous afterlife. Mesopotamian religion was gloomy and bleak, and their prayers reflected the absence of a personal relationship with their gods and goddesses who were suspicious of humans and frequently sent calamities to underscore their humanity – as in the message of the Gilgamesh epic (Michael Streich,