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Mr. Banfield                                                                                                                               World History 

Civilization. The word “civilization” comes from the Latin term for “city.” The origins of civilization date to about 3500 B.C.E. The first civilizations were the river-valley civilizations, because they all developed alongside major rivers, this allowed an adequate water supply for agriculture. The earliest river-valley civilizations began in the Middle East and flourished for centuries. They created a basic set of tools, intellectual concepts such as writing and math, and political forms that would persist and spread to other parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Most of the river-valley civilizations were in decline by 1000 B.C.E.

Tigris-Euphrates Civilization. This civilization originated in the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in a part of the Middle East called Mesopotamia. It was one of the few cases of a civilization that started from scratch—with no examples from any place available for imitation. This civilization progressed mostly due to the accomplishments of the Sumerians, the most influential people in the Tigris-Euphrates region. By about 3500 B.C.E, the Sumerians had developed the first known human writing, cuneiform. They also were characterized by the development of astronomical sciences, intense religious beliefs, and tightly organized city-states. The Sumerians improved the region’s agricultural prosperity by learning about fertilizers and using silver to conduct commercial exchange. Their ideas about gods in natural objects were common among early agricultural peoples; a religion of this sort, which sees many gods in nature, is known as polytheism. Sumerian political structures stressed highly organized city-states, ruled by a king who claimed authority from the gods; divine authority. The government regulated and controlled religion and and provided a system of courts for justice. Kings were originally war leaders, and the function of defense and war, including leadership of a trained army, remained critical. The Sumerians eventually succumbed to the Akkadians, who continued much of the Sumerian culture in the Tigris-Euphrates region; and the Babylonians, who developed Hammurabi’s code. This Codeorganized law courts and regulated property rights and duties of family members. Hammurabi's Code set very harsh punishments for crimes. This dweveloping of a legal system was one of the HUGE features of early river valley civilizations.

Egyptian Civilization. Egyptian civilization emerged in northern Africa along the Nile River, about 3000 B.C.E. It benefited from trade and influences from Mesopotamia, but it also produced its own distinct social structures and cultural expressions. Unlike Mesopotamian civilization, Egyptian civilization featured very durable and centralized institutions. Mathematical achievements and impressive architectural structures also characterized Egyptian civilization. From 2700 B.C.E. onward, the Egyptian pharaohs directed the building of the pyramids, which were to function as their tombs. The most famous tombs, however, were in the Valley of the Kings, including King Tut's tomb. One problem: building all their monuments, tombs, and architecture needed lots of workers. Many were slaves.        

Hey! Whaddya see in this bas-relief? THINK! Yeah! That's IT!


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