Early River Valley Civilizations
About 5,000 years ago, the first civilizations began to develop along river vallies. The rich, fertile farmlands of river valleys helped these civilizations to thrive.
These early civilizations relied on a traditional economy based on farming. Many developed into cities with systems of government, social structures, and belief systems, laying the foundations for later civilizations. Through warfare and trade, these and other cultural achievements spread to new lands.
The Tigris and Euphrates rivers supported the development of Sumerian civilization. The need to cooperate for irrigation and flood control led the Sumerians to form city-states with strong governments. The Sumerians' relationship with the land was reflected in their religious beliefs and their worldview. The Sumerians developed cuneiform, basic algebra, and geometry, and made advances in medicine, geography, and astronomy.
The Hebrews developed Judaism, a monotheistic religion based on the worship of one God, whose laws are set out in the Torah and the Ten Commandments.
In Egypt, the benefits of the Nile River supported the development of early civilization. The history of ancient Egypt is divided into three periods: Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, and New Kingdom. Religious beliefs about gods, values, and life after death profoundly affected ancient Egyptian life. Scribes used a system of hieroglyphics to make written records. Other Egyptians made advances in science, mathematics, art, and literature.
The vast Indian subcontinent is a land of mountains, fertile plains, and arid regions. In the Indus River valley, archaeologists have uncovered the remains of India's first civilization. This civilization, which is thought to have flourished for about 1,000 years, eventually fell to the Aryans, who invaded India and destroyed many Indus Valley cities. Over the centuries, they abandoned their nomadic life, interacted with the people they conquered, and developed a new Indian civilization.
Geography isolated early Chinese civilization, yet the people developed a writing system, literature, silk making, and other arts. They honored nature and ancestor spirits.
The Epic of Gilgamesh
River of Sorrows
Yin and Yang
Mandate of Heaven
Warring States Period
· How did geography affect the development of ancient civilizations?
· How did geography affect the development of the economic systems in ancient civilizations?
· What were the main features and achievements of the world’s ancient civilizations?
· How did invasions affect the development of ancient civilizations?
· How did geography affect the development of belief systems in ancient civilizations?
· Why did different cultures develop in each ancient civilization?
· How did diversity emerge and impact in each location?
· How did ideas and technology spread?
· How do legal systems reflect the values of societies?
· How did writing systems reflect the values of societies?
· How did geography affect the development of social classes in ancient civilizations?
· Is Egypt an African or a Mediterranean civilization?
· How did Aryan migration effect the Indus river valley civilization?
· How did the caste system influence Indian society?
· How is the dynastic cycle reflected in the Shang and Zhou dynasties?
· Why did a system of feudalism develop in China?