Human civilisations first emerged roughly 10,000 years ago, during the Neolithic period, sometimes known as the “New Stone Age.” This period in human history saw a substantial transition from a nomadic, hunting and gathering lifestyle to a settled, agricultural one.
Agriculture’s development was a critical component in the evolution of civilisations. This enabled humans to dwell in a single location and develop stable communities. The demand for order, cooperation, and governance increased as communities grew. As a result, complex systems of administration, religion, and social institutions emerged.
Rivers of Progress: How Fertile Valleys Gave Rise to Early Human Civilizations
The first civilisations originated in river basins such as Mesopotamia’s Tigris and Euphrates, Egypt’s Nile, the Indian subcontinent’s Indus, and China’s Yellow River. These areas have fertile soil, an abundant supply of water, and a favourable climate, allowing agriculture to develop.
Agriculture’s expansion also resulted in the rise of trade, as communities began to specialise in the manufacture of specific items. Furthermore, the surplus of food provided by agriculture facilitated the rise of non-agrarian occupations such as metalworkers, potters, and textile producers.
It’s important to note that the process of human civilization was not a sudden or a single event, but a gradual and complex one, spanning over thousands of years. The development of civilization varied across different regions, and the causes and effects of the process were varied and multifaceted.
Some major early human civilizations:
Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq, Kuwait, and parts of Syria, Turkey, and Iran) – The Mesopotamian civilization developed around 4,500 BCE in the region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. They developed a complex system of writing, the cuneiform script, as well as a complex system of laws, the Code of Hammurabi. They also made significant advancements in agriculture, architecture, and metalworking.
Indus Valley Civilization (present-day Pakistan and northwest India) – The Indus Valley civilization developed around 3,300 BCE in the region of the Indus River. They developed a sophisticated system of town planning and had a complex system of weights and measures. They also made significant advancements in agriculture, metallurgy, and textile production.
Ancient Egypt (present-day Egypt) – The Egyptian civilization developed around 3,100 BCE along the Nile River. They developed a complex system of writing, hieroglyphics, and a complex religious system. They also made significant advancements in agriculture, architecture, and medicine. They are also known for building monumental structures such as the pyramids.
Ancient China (present-day China) – The Chinese civilization developed around 2,200 BCE in the Yellow River Valley. They developed a complex system of writing, the Chinese script, as well as a complex system of law, the Legalist system. They also made significant advancements in agriculture, engineering, and metallurgy.
Ancient Greece (present-day Greece) – The Greek civilization developed around 800 BCE on the Greek mainland and the Aegean Sea. They developed a complex system of writing, the Greek script, as well as a complex system of government, the City-state system. They also made significant advancements in philosophy, science, and art.
Ancient Rome (present-day Italy and Mediterranean region) – The Roman civilization developed around 753 BCE on the Italian Peninsula. They developed a complex system of writing, the Latin script, which became the foundation of many modern languages.